National tool workshops for girls and women – Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen (SALT)
In 2012 the SALT committee created a unique vision of teaching as many women and girls as possible how to use tools. This initiative is based on research by founder, Fi Shewring, who identified that the majority of women who were succeeding in apprenticeships had been taught to use tools at an early age.
Many employers were also saying that women did not apply for the jobs that they offered so SALT decided to take on generating social change. The organisation felt that women did not generally have the basic knowledge of generic tool use, which are used in almost all trades, but they also didn’t know that they could easily do this type of work either. It was a classic case of not knowing what you don’t know.
A major part of SALT’s activities is running workshops in schools and the community. The optimum age group in school is year 5 to 12. The workshops help inform prospective students of possible pathways and opportunities but these workshops are suitable for anyone and give people very beneficial life skills. SALT works extensively with careers advisors and schools to support their promotion of women in trades and trade pathways with very real and personal interactions.
This helps to address perceived misconceptions about VET. SALT believes that working in the community as well as the schools is a very sustainable approach to generating multigenerational change with the view to VET careers and courses. Mothers and grandmothers will support their younger members in VET choices when exposed to successful women who have had long and varied pathways into trade. It changes their views regarding what is possible.
During 2021 the National Careers Institute is funding SALT deliver a total of 60 ‘hands on’ workshops or ‘try-a-trade’ workshops at schools or community events to promote vocational education and training qualifications and career pathways to young women and their career influencers.
SALT uses its unique mobile workshop and qualified tradespeople to provide supervised hands-on workshops for school children. These events will take place in every state and territory across Australia with the first of SALT’s workshops having been already held in Canberra, ACT in mid-February.