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Girls in Glass: Tina’s Story

While not surprised by the industry statistics of females employed in the glass industry, Mark Roberts, Branch Manager at G.James’ Narangba site, believes the women they employ positively impact their business. ‘We encourage an equal-opportunity workplace, with several women working out of this site, our final-year female apprentice has performed well: she works side by side with her male colleagues. I have the same expectations of her as I would with the men in the factory. Her output is equal, but without a shadow of doubt she does bring another dimension to the workplace. She certainly has a greater appreciation of design, and interestingly, where men tend to look at each step by step in the manufacturing process, she is also more conscious of what is needed to achieve the final outcome, just looking ahead more,’ said Mark. Mark also believes that by having women working alongside men on the factory floor also pacifies the environment – to use the term loosely, it’s a great marriage. ‘For the first time ever, I have recently appointed a female trainee commercial estimator, and she is going great guns – these girls at G.James are really keeping the boys on their toes.’

 What happens when a female glazier becomes trade qualified? One example is Tina Connor from Tina’s Glass & Glazing in Hastings, Victoria. Tina completed her trade training in 2011. Initially a designer and maker of leadlight windows, Tina learned how to install her works in clients’ houses. She contacted a local glazier, who was keen to help such a focused and forward-thinking person. After spending five days learning basic glazier skills, Tina fell in love with glazing in its own right. Although she was very busy as a mum, she spent the next five years gaining her formal trade qualification at Victoria’s Holmesglen TAFE. Holmesglen instigated part-time evening classes to assist Tina and other industry apprentices who could not attend day classes due to work and family commitments.

Since graduating, Tina has established her own glazing business servicing Western Port and Mornington Peninsula areas. Her business plan is based on providing glazing services to the elderly, as well as to women who feel more comfortable dealing with a female glazier. Tina has other plans for her business, and is passionate about her trade and the future of other women entering the industry. One growth area is the installation of Insulated Glass Units (IGUs). As these units are becoming more popular in Tina’s business environment, she has taken time to learn about their manufacture and installation. She already has a couple of orders for IGUs on her books, and hopes to further expand this part of her business. Tina is also developing her project management skills, as the successful installation of IGUs requires more detailed planning and coordination with other trades.

As well as further building up her quality glazing service, Tina would also like to travel to the Australian outback to learn the skills required by glaziers in this region, including the different types of glass required for extreme climates. She also intends to join a disaster relief organisation, which would allow her to use her glazing skills to assist those who have been affected by natural disasters.

Tina is appreciative of the help she has received from the industry, which has enabled her to develop her skills and expand her business. To support others like her, Tina has registered as a mentor with AGGA to assist women who are interested in becoming glaziers. She believes that many could learn a lot from her successful experience in the glazing industry. Her clients greatly appreciate the fact that Tina ‘takes time to explain the job’, her ‘wonderful personality’, the fact that ‘she is always on time’, and her ‘pride in her work’. Tina is looking forward to her new mentoring role, and continuing to grow her glazing business.

For those considering a change into the glass and glazing industry go to the glass website; www.careersinglass.com.au and call the National Apprenticeship Advisor, Lynne Stockdale, on 1800 03 04 05 for more information. Don’t forget when you are at the careersinglass website to post your resume under job opportunities and enter the AGGA Gold Pass competition. 

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