BRICKLAYER Chelsea Whelan has some advice for women thinking of working in a traditional trade: “just do it.”
Ms Whelan is Tasmania’s first female bricklaying apprentice, a title which the laid back 20-year-old sees as no big deal.
With a family background in the trade, Ms Whelan grew up tagging along to job sites with her father and grandfather – an activity that sparked a desire to become a bricklayer from a young age.
“I was probably about six or seven when I first went on site,” she said.
“I loved it and used to slide around in the sandpit and hand a few bricks over to dad.
“Then it kind of got pushed away because it wasn’t really the thing (for women) back then, but no one seems to care these days, so why not?”
Ms Whelan tried several career options – including a traineeship in an office and butchery and kitchen work – before her early interest and love of being outdoors led her back to bricklaying.
Ms Whelan is now employed by Crossin Bricklaying and loves her work.
“The thing I like most about it is probably the end product,” she said.
“I like being able to stand up in front of a house and say, ‘yeah, I built that’.”
Ms Whelan said her employer, Andrew Crossin, was really supportive.
She said she hadn’t encountered too many issues as a female in a male-dominated trade.
“Everyone seems to not be phased – you get a few, ‘oh, there’s a chick’, but that’s about it,” she said.
Mr Crossin said he had no hesitation in employing Ms Whelan, as she had a “great attitude.”
“Chelsea just gets in and has a go,” he said.
“She wants to do it and I don’t see it as a massive deal, I’m just employing someone who’s right for the job.”
Ms Whelan is preparing to start her second year at TasTAFE’s Clarence Campus, studying a Certificate III in Bricklaying.
Ms Whelan said she enjoyed the training.
“It’s pretty good fun,” she said.
“I like working over there and getting a few days to be inside and working with TasTAFE bricklaying teacher Paul.”
Ms Whelan has some simple advice for women looking at following in her footsteps.
“Just do it – no one cares, so you might as well,” she said.
TasTAFE offers around 250 nationally recognised, industry endorsed qualifications across a range of areas including Automotive, Construction, Tourism and Hospitality and Primary Industries.
For more information about TasTAFE courses, visit www.tastafe.tas.edu.au or phone 1300 655 307.
Caption: Bricklayer Chelsea Whelan is currently studying at Certificate III in Bricklaying at TasTAFE’s Clarence Campus.