EDL’s decade long journey of empowering women in trades

In 2014, EDL National Maintenance Facility Manager, Neil King, embarked on a journey to redefine the landscape of trades by fostering gender diversity.

Initially faced with challenges in attracting female candidates for mechanical apprenticeships, EDL’s commitment to change began with a single apprenticeship offered to a young lady from Dapto High School.

The turning point came in 2017 when Neil (pictured centre with program participants and students from Dapto High School) formed a partnership with Peter Johnson, Dapto High School’s careers advisor, who shared EDL’s vision for empowering young women to consider careers in non-traditional trades (one where women represent less than 25% of apprentices or workers).

Neil’s first presentation, attended by approximately 300 girls, laid the foundation for a subsequent workshop called ‘Women in Non-Traditional Trades.’

This workshop has expanded over the years with support from group training organisation Migas, and now covers a diverse range of topics from identifying trade interests to discussing challenges faced by women in the workplace.

The program has evolved to become ‘Women in Trades’, with Migas officially joining the initiative in 2021. From 2024, it will further expand to include Warilla State High School, Warrawong State High School, and Corrimal State High School.

“I have a couple of proud and memorable experiences from this program, starting with three young females who have been through this program and now are part of the EDL family,’’ Neil said.

“All three of these apprentices now lead the woman in trades workshops, attending and sharing their experiences with the students. Seeing the way these three women take the students on a journey in the trade and EDL is truly a pleasure to watch. We (EDL) are well represented by these young individuals.”

The success stories are evident, with 18 young women securing trade apprenticeships, including plant mechanics, electrical, fitting & machining, cabinet making, avionics, industrial painting, and plumbing. Notably, eight of these women began their apprenticeships with EDL, solidifying the positive impact of the program.

“The company [EDL] provides an environment that allows women to achieve anything they set their minds to.” Alkira Lazaro, EDL tradesperson and apprentice program graduate

A milestone for the program was celebrated on International Women In Engineering Day on June 23rd, 2022, when EDL proudly marked its first-ever all-female major engine overhaul. Two previous Dapto High School students were part of the all-female team and led the refurbishment of the ex-LH2 #5 engine at EDL’s national maintenance facility in Appin, New South Wales. Read article: https://edlenergy.com/news/international-women-in-engineering-day/

Members of the all-female major engine overhaul crew at EDL’s national maintenance facility in Appin, New South Wales

Human Resource Manager, Hayden Smith commented, “EDL’s commitment to empowering women in trades goes beyond rhetoric, as evidenced by its transformative initiatives and the tangible success stories that continue to unfold.”

The expansion of the ‘Women in Trades’ program to additional schools signifies a broader impact, fostering a culture of inclusion and opportunity. The journey, initiated in 2014, has not only reshaped EDL’s workforce but has also become a beacon for young women aspiring to break barriers and thrive in traditionally male-dominated industries.

“As the program continues to evolve, EDL remains steadfast in its mission to empower women, proving that a career in trades knows no gender boundaries,” Hayden said.