Maxine Colligan is a spray painter at RPM in Milperra. Picture: Adam Yip
Maxine Colligan is a spray painter at RPM in Milperra. Picture: Adam Yip

Our highest-paid tradies revealed

Pay packets are growing across many trades and it is not just the usual people snapping up the roles.

Applicants of all ages, genders, cultures and educational backgrounds are coming to the sector, in search of high-demand work.

SEEK data reveals the highest-paying trades and services roles in the 2018-19 financial year, based on average advertised salaries, were airconditioning and refrigeration mechanics ($83,278), electricians ($82,782) and fitters, turners and machinists ($79,170).

Airconditioning and refrigeration mechanics also had the strongest salary growth, up 7.7 per cent.

They were followed by fitters, turners and machinists, as well as welders and boilermakers, each occupation up 7.3 per cent.

Trades are attracting a wider demographic of Australians. Picture: iStock
Trades are attracting a wider demographic of Australians. Picture: iStock

Meanwhile, National Centre for Vocational Education Research data shows the type of people interested in trade careers is becoming more diverse.

There were 7.6 per cent more females commencing a trade apprenticeship in the March quarter than a year earlier, as well as 10.7 per cent more indigenous Australians, 11.4 per cent more people aged 25 to 44, 11.7 per cent more people with a disability, and 19 per cent more people who already held a bachelor degree.

MORE CAREERS NEWS

Protesters risking future careers with extreme activism

Top 10 jobs with fastest-growing salaries

Porter Davis Homes group building manager Rhodes Mackenzie says tradespeople have become a much more varied group.

"I'd say the stereotypical Aussie tradie is a 25-year-old male, chippy, Anglo, amateur football player," he says.

"Once upon a time this may have been the case, but now we're seeing more of a melting pot of different people.

"People from diverse cultures contribute new ways of thinking, language skills and different experiences.

"Gender diversity is also important as again, different people bring different qualities and skillsets to a role."

Trade apprenticeships are not just for young school leavers. Picture: iStock
Trade apprenticeships are not just for young school leavers. Picture: iStock

Mining and construction support company Hastings Deering received a record 2177 applications for its 2020 intake of 75 boilermakers, fitter machinists, auto electricians, electricians, engine reconditioners and mechanical fitters.

More than a third of applicants (35 per cent) were 21 or older, 13 per cent were women and 12 per cent were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Hastings Deering people and external affairs general manager Vincent Cosgrove says the company's diverse demographic is representative of the communities they work in.

"In the past we have had students with an OP 1 (ATAR 99) apply because they want to be hands-on in a job," he says.

"There have been a few who have started a course at university, like engineering, who then decide an apprenticeship is a more preferable pathway.

"Some have joined the Navy or the Army and then opt out."

Hastings Deering employs more than 3000 people and 18 per cent are female.

Spray painter Maxine Colligan says women are not disadvantaged in her trade. Picture: Adam Yip
Spray painter Maxine Colligan says women are not disadvantaged in her trade. Picture: Adam Yip

RPM Milperra spray painter Maxine Colligan says there is nothing stopping women doing jobs such as hers.

"There is no heavy lifting at all," she says.

"The heaviest thing would be car parts but no one is expected to lift them on their own whether they are male or female, old or young.

"There is no expectation you have to have big muscles."

Colligan, who was named Best in Nation at WorldSkills Kazan 2019 for scoring the most points of any Australian competitor, says being exposed to different ways to do a job is very important.

"When I was starting out, one tradesman would show me how he does things then the next would show me how he does it and they would be completely different," she says.

Colligan is in Vietnam this week with fellow WorldSkills Australia international competitor Cristopher Matkowski, showcasing their excellence in vehicle painting and commercial cookery to local students and industry.

 

READ MORE EMPLOYMENT NEWS IN THE CAREERS SECTION OF SATURDAY'S THE COURIER-MAIL, THE ADVERTISER, THE HERALD SUN AND THE DAILY TELEGRAPH