RAAF Base Richmond paired with Defence Force Recruiting’s Parramatta Office to conduct a ‘Try a Trade’ Day on 23 August 2018.
The event allowed up to 100 people aged from 15 to 29 years to experience a range of technical careers within Air Force. Participants were drawn from Defence Force Recruiting applicants and others who had registered an interest, and focused on women and those with an indigenous background.
As of May 2018, women account for less than five per cent of the Air Force’s aviation technical workforce – specifically, the roles of avionics technician, aircraft technician, and armaments technician. More broadly, Indigenous Australians represent only 1.6 per cent of the Air Force as of August 2018.
Try-a-Trade Day was an opportunity for women and Indigenous prospective recruits to see an Air Force working environment firsthand, according to Corporal Jessica Johnson from Defence Force Recruiting’s Parramatta office.
“We’re aiming for them to build confidence and perspective on the jobs that are available to them,” Corporal Johnson said.
“The idea was to create an experience that would hopefully inspire a career in Defence.”
Whilst Corporal Johnson is currently posted to a position with Defence Force Recruiting, she has worked in the past as an Avionics Technician, and holds experience on the C-27J Spartan and C-130J Hercules transport aircraft. Try-a Trade Day allowed participants to have a go at soldering, lock wiring, and other day-to-day skillsets employed by technicians at RAAF Base Richmond.
They were familiarised with the major systems on the Spartan and Hercules aircraft, including the Rolls Royce turboprop engine that produces 4600-shaft horsepower. Personnel at RAAF Base Richmond also took groups through the basics of aircraft marshalling and ground handling.
Participants were also able to experience the role of Life Support Fitter, which maintains a diverse range of equipment including survival kit, life rafts, night-vision goggles and flying helmets. Initial feedback to Try-a-Trade Day was positive, according to Corporal Johnson.
“A lot of these candidates haven’t used these tools before, but have a general interest in the area – this is a supportive environment where they could have some practice and see if they enjoy it,” Corporal Johnson said.
“For women, the main (barrier) they face is a perception that a trade role isn’t for females – a lot of women don’t think of applying for a trade because they think it’s a man’s role.”