POSTED: 16 Mar, 2023
By Melinda Laundon, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, and Jacqueline Greentree, PhD Researcher, Human-Robot Workforce Program, Australian Cobotics Centre
Almost 200 Grade 9 and 10 girls from Gladstone and surrounds gathered at CQUniversity for Try-a-Trade on 15th March. This event brought together manufacturing, aerospace, energy, mining, engineering and construction industry businesses and stakeholders from government and education to encourage female high school students to learn about a range of careers in STEM and try out some practical activities that they might encounter in STEM jobs.
The event was organised by the Gladstone Engineering Alliance in partnership with the National Association of Women in Construction and the Queensland Government‘s Department of Employment, Small Business and Training and Gladstone Manufacturing Hub.
It is important to engage high school students early to consider careers in manufacturing. The lower numbers of women in manufacturing make it particularly important to provide female students with opportunities to consider and experience diverse manufacturing career options. In Queensland, 29% of the current manufacturing workforce are women. While the proportion of women employed in manufacturing has grown dramatically over the past decade, most are in clerical or administrative roles. Only 11% of women in manufacturing are technicians and trade workers.
Australian Cobotics Centre industry partner Weld Australia hosted a stall at Try-a-Trade with two Soldamatic welding simulators. This popular activity allows people to experience welding in a safe environment. It also provided a fun competition between girls to compare their welding accuracy. Weld Australia’s Regional Training Coordinator, Adam Coorey said:
“To address the skills shortage, we need to give a greater range of access to the full available workforce. By utilising augmented reality technology, students who would normally shy away from the heat and sparks of a welding bay can try welding in a safe environment. This accessible technology gives students the opportunity to experience a career that they may thrive in”.
At the Cobotics Centre stall, we discussed the impact of cobots and other advanced technology on future work. We also asked students to think about the skills and attributes that would be required in the future to work with a cobot as a team member. They came up with many creative insights, including:
- Problem solving skills
- Understanding human interactions
- Good communication
- Digital technology education
- To be able to build
- Understanding of mechanics
 Queensland Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water (2023) Women in Manufacturing Strategy.
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