Caravanning Isn't Just For Guys

Careers 

Traditionally the trade industry hasn’t attracted a lot of females outside of administrative roles, but the shape of that workforce is beginning to change. Ella Flack has been working on the tools as a tradie for the past seven years in a broad range of roles, skills that have come in very handy after landing a job with the Caravan Guys on the Gold Coast.

“I love working here because it brings all of the trade elements together”, says Ella. “It’s like building mini houses on wheels. I’ve always wanted to work on caravans because they cover the basis of every trade – plumbing, electrical, carpentry… you name it. You can do sheeting and welding too – it’s incredible. You don’t get that opportunity in any other trade.”

In taking on the job Ella is doing the Caravan and RV Service and Repair apprenticeship through TAFE Queensland, a course that takes two years to complete and involves a series of block modules that cover every aspect of the trade. The course is relatively new and was created out of necessity off the back of a prosperous caravan industry.

Booming industry

Once upon a time it was the baby boomers who literally drove the success of caravanning, but curiously it’s young people who are creating renewed interest in the sector.

“These days it’s the younger generation who are now getting into it. The advent of COVID-19 saw even more people turning to caravanning as a holiday option when borders began closing”, says The Caravan Guys owner Jarrod Wade.

Apprentice numbers in the sector have doubled in the last 6 months according to Jarrod, which is consistent with the growth he’s seen in his own business. “Eighteen months ago we had one shop and three staff, now we have two shops and ten staff.”

Ella Flack works on a caravan

Changing face of the industry

It’s not just the size of the sector that’s changing, it’s the face of those who work in it too. When Jarrod told his manager Tom Amey that he was hiring their first female tradie he admits to raising his eyebrow, but he was impressed with Ella from the outset.

“In my twelve years in this industry I’ve never worked with a female before. Ella’s a great asset to the team, she just ripped in from the outset and wasn’t afraid to get dirty with us to get the job done. Ella’s got a super positive attitude and is so keen to learn. She’s a really good listener who soaks everything up like a sponge”, enthused Tom. 

Ella says the guys couldn’t have been more welcoming. “There’s a fantastic camaraderie here and it’s a great place to work. I’d love to see more females working in this industry. The skills you learn are for life and in developing those skills it gives you the confidence to look after yourself.”

 *Looking for apprenticeship and trade opportunities? www.goldcoaststudentjobs.com.au

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