When Becca Higgin travelled to Nepal in 2018 as part of a charity project that her employer had organised, she didn’t realise just how much of a life changing experience it would be.
The project involved rebuilding a school and it was Becca’s first experience of being on a construction site, albeit very different from ones in Australia. Becca says of the experience, “I really enjoyed it and started to think about whether that’s something I’d enjoy doing, day in and day out.
“The more representation we can get showing that women actually enjoy the job, it’s only going to help.”
When Becca returned from Nepal, she started to dream about a new career in construction. It was actually her girlfriend who found the Trade Institute of Victoria with its array of building courses. The next decision was deciding which one to enrol in.
After scouring through information and attending a couple of online open days, Becca settled on the CPC30211 – Certificate III in Carpentry. She chose it because she felt it would give her a good overall understanding of how a building comes together. Becca conceded she “knew it would be a steep learning curve but banked on her maturity giving her a head start on some aspects.” Becca adds, “To me the hardest thing is just the terminology, knowing tools and how things work because I’ve never had experience on site at all.”
Working in a Male Dominated Industry
Being a confident person who loves to chat to others, Becca was never concerned with studying or working in a male dominated industry. The course has been absolutely wonderful and she has bonded with the other women also undertaking the course.
Becca was also lucky enough to find a part time job working in a small team of five in residential building. At the moment, due to Covid, TIV hasn’t been able to run the practical side of its course. So having a job as an apprentice carpenter, while studying, has been the “perfect combination”.
She counts herself lucky to be on a site where even though all her colleagues are male, it is a supportive environment. “They’re a great bunch of guys,” says Becca. And they’ve even remarked that “it’s good to have girls on site.” The culture of a work site is different when there’s a balance of male and female voices and Becca is proud to contribute to that.
“I will definitely get my builder’s licence as well at some point because it just gives you so much more freedom if you’re going to go out on your own.”
Due to her past role in project management, Becca feels this may be a path she decides to pursue in construction. “I will definitely get my builder’s licence as well at some point because it just gives you so much more freedom if you’re going to go out on your own.”
Coming back to why she chose carpentry as her trade, Becca also says, “Just starting from the very bottom, like digging those trenches right up to putting that roof on, even if I choose to go into something more admin related within the industry, I’ll have that understanding of what actually goes into it.”
Advice to Women Looking for a Career in Construction
Becca believes construction should definitely be promoted as a future employment pathway to young girls in high school. There should be more information geared towards girls “as well as female role models” for them to look up to.
The two big advantages of a career in construction from Becca’s point of view are the diversity of roles and the good income. “You can earn very good money,” Becca says, adding that, “there are just so many options in construction that even if you start down one avenue, there are so many different options you can take.”
At the moment, when Becca walks into a hardware store with her work colleagues, people often assume the group is all male – until they hear her speak. Becca would love to see this change and for women to become more of the norm than the exception in construction. “The more representation we can get showing that women actually enjoy the job, it’s only going to help.”
Becca seems well on her way to becoming a role model to a whole new generation of women in construction.
If you’re considering a career in building and want to become part of the TIV success story, please get in touch.