As part of our Women in Trades series, we sat down with Chloe, an innovative signs and graphics teacher at VU Polytechnic, to hear her thoughts on teaching the next generation this creative trade.
Tell us about yourself
I have 12 years' experience in Signs and Graphics, working in all areas from installation, vehicle wrapping and graphic design. I specialise in anything Graphics Room based, including design, printing, laser machinery and plotting.
What do you enjoy most about teaching/working in the trades industry, especially as a female?
Signs and Graphics is a really creative trade and I love working with other quirky, innovative and creative people. It’s a fast, ever-changing and adaptable trade which is exciting, and I love teaching all aspects of the trade and all its quirks to the next generation.
How does the training at VU Polytechnic help prepare students for work in the trades industry?
For Signs and Graphics, we are the only training facility in Victoria. VU Polytechnic is a great institution and facility with all the resources to fill in any gaps that may not be getting filled in an apprentice’s workplace learning, while also getting a chance to meet and bond with other signwriters in their position and age bracket, learning together and from each other.
It’s a great opportunity to learn the many ways that tasks can be done, and broaden your horizons and learning.
In your opinion, what do you think are the most important skills needed to work in trades?
Being open to learning and open to failing. Mistakes are nothing but a learning curve and an opportunity for reflection and improvement and not something to be ashamed or embarrassed by.
Our trade is hard work, physically and mentally, especially when artistic blocks come into play. But it’s super rewarding seeing an idea all the way through, from a thought, to a design, a concept, a physical sign or painting out and representing you in the public. Resilience, creativity, and being open and patient.
What are your top tips to current or prospective students who are interested in a trade’s career, especially as a female?
Just try it. If you have any sort of curiosity about the trade, just try it. You can always quit, you can always change employers, and nothing needs to be permanent, just try. You may fall in love with the trade, so much so that you want to teach the next generation, like me.
If there are any Trya Trade days near you, attend. If you know anyone working in the Trade, have a chat. Get in touch with teachers in that department for a chat and see if it sounds like it’s for you. Attend Trade Shows or Expos specifically for that industry and see if you feel inspired.
Signwriting specifically is full of very creative beings and we have quite a few female apprentices, especially compared to other trades. In the workforce, the mix is about 40% female, 60% male, which is fantastic. Just try, that’s all you can do!