Korean Women Craft Careers in the Marine Industry

Study 

TAFE’s Coomera Marine campus offers a range of specialised training courses tailored for the marine industry, including marine craft construction. It’s conveniently located within the Gold Coast Marine Precinct, a 250 hectare site on the Coomera River housing the largest concentration of marine trades in Australia. For those wanting to pursue a career in the marine craft industry the location provides a symbiotic relationship between TAFE and the manufacturers, as students are easily placed in traineeships within the precinct while learning their trade.

Traditionally the trade industry has been a male domain, but increasingly more females are becoming attracted by the opportunities of developing their physical skills as a creative form of expression. And while it’s not uncommon these days to see a new generation of Australian women working within the trade sector that appeal has now broadened for female international students as well.

International students

In the 2022 Certificate III in Marine Craft Construction course there are three South Korean women enrolled at TAFE’s Coomera Marine campus. Leanna Ha, Younghyun (Young) Kim and Sujin Kim didn’t know each other prior to enrolment, but have become firm friends since starting the course this year. All admit they were surprised to find that they weren’t the only Korean female in their class.

“It was weird when I got here to find that there were two other Korean women studying this course”, says Sujin. “I thought: Wow! These girls are as brave as me!”

Sujin draws up a design in class

Choosing the marine industry

Interestingly all three have different motivations for choosing the course. Sujin has always been fascinated by boats, having grown up in the seaport of Busan, while Leanna, says she was tired of city life and was looking for something unique and interesting. Young was attracted to the course because she likes being able to work with her hands.

“Not many women get a chance to operate machinery like this in Korea, there just aren’t the same opportunities in the trades there. Most women see their careers in Korea as working in an office, but that never really appealed to me”, Young explains.

Traineeships

Initially they all began their traineeships with Australia’s largest luxury boat builder, Riviera, although Leanna is now developing her practical skills with Hybrid Composites. “It’s a smaller company that makes smaller kinds of boats”’ Leanna says. “I’m very passionate about my work and I like that I get to work in all facets of their boat building business.”

All three are enjoying life on the Gold Coast and the training they’re receiving through TAFE. “I just love that I can use my creativity here”, says Sujin, while Young appreciates the more practical side of it – “I’m really enjoying the new skills that I’m learning, like how to use power tools – that’s cool!” Leanna, however, sees it from a more self-assured perspective: “I’m so much more confident at both making and repairing things, it’s very satisfying. I feel like I can fix anything now!”, she exclaims.

Young, Sujin and Leanna

Career prospects

As with their motivations for taking up the course, each has a different outlook on their future plans. Leanna says that later on she’d like to make boats in Dubai, or possibly England (“Like my boss did – he has great stories!”). Sujin says that she’d like to get as much experience here as she can before going back to Korea, but that will be much later.

“I want to learn as much as I can here while developing my hands on skills, then work in this industry overseas. Riviera build some amazing luxury yachts, it’s been wonderful working here. Some of my colleagues have been employed all over the world, so there’s a lot of opportunities out there.”

As for Young, she plans on staying right where she is. “I’ll never go back to Korea, I just love it here. I’d like to keep working in this industry and getting as much experience as I can. I’d like to stay on the Gold Coast. Unlike home, I never get stressed out here, it’s so peaceful. I like the relaxed nature of the city.”