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A group of young women from the mining towns of Blackwater and Emerald in Queensland’s Central Highlands took part in a girls’ day with a difference this week. The Year 10 students spent a day experiencing life as tradies and learning from resources industry professionals.

The ‘All Female Tradies for a Day’ event on 10 May was run by the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) and supported by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA).

Twenty girls from Blackwater and Emerald State High Schools were mentored by BHP and BMA mining tradespeople and apprentices as they tackled trade-based activities that simulated real-world scenarios.

The full-day event, the first of its kind held at Blackwater SHS, followed on from successful ‘All Female Tradies for a Day’ events held in Moranbah and Mackay earlier this year. The events aimed to inform young women of job pathways into the resources sector, help them understand the industry, and give them practical advice for applying for apprenticeships.

QMEA’s Manager of Skills and Education, Matthew Heskett, stressed the importance of equipping high school students with useful information as they’re considering their career directions. He added that girls benefit from the all-female workshop environment. “Trade-based work in the resources industry has historically been male-dominated. We want to give young women a space to be mentored and experience trades firsthand, so that we can break down some of the barriers to diversity in mining. We’ve designed these workshops to be hands-on, interesting and inspiring for students.”

BMA Blackwater Mine’s Acting General Manager Vaughn Abrams said that building and fostering an inclusive and diverse workforce was critical for BMA. “It’s important we secure a diverse talent pipeline that includes more women. We value diversity in the workplace and want these students to know that there are exciting opportunities for them. We’re pleased that our representatives can share their professional knowledge and experience at this event.”

As Australia’s largest and most successful industry-led education and skills training initiative, the QMEA seeks to broaden student and teacher knowledge of career opportunities in resources. The academy encourages a talent pipeline of employees into VET and STEM-related careers, with a focus on female and Indigenous participation. The QMEA currently engages with 90 schools and is a partnership with the Queensland Government under its Gateway to Industry Schools program.

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