While a childcare centre seems a predictable place to find women working on International Women’s Day, there’s good reason for a visit from the Federal Government.
On Tuesday, Member for Lindsay Fiona Scott and Minister for Vocational Education and Training Senator Scott Ryan spoke with staff at the Little Learning School on Mulgoa Road.
During their first stop touring the local area, Senator Ryan said it’s important to challenge stereotypes in the female workforce, but just as important to understand the lived experience.
“Employment in traditional trade areas – mining, construction, electrical, manufacturing and engineering all suffer from low female participation,” he said.
“We need to understand where there is a significant workforce, and if the system is working and organised well.”
For trainee Stephanie Paltoo, studying through a Registered Training Organisation gave her more hands-on practical work at the childcare centre than a degree at university.
“Everything is out of books at university, and here it’s hands on, there are things here that you wouldn’t learn out of a book,” she said.
“I’m doing a traineeship while studying a bachelor degree, and this has taught me a lot more about how to deal with families.”
The 22 staff members at Little Learning School look after 108 children per day between 7am and 6pm, and service families that commute to work every day.
Ms Scott said 70 per cent of the local community have to commute out of the area every day, with most being young families.
“Our median age is 34, which means we have more children here than any other place in the country,” she said.
“For women to be in the workforce, we need family arrangements, and we need great childcare providers locally.”
Ms Scott said one of the biggest employers locally is childcare centres, and they are one of the biggest users of apprentices.
“Today is about trades and training and childcare is a very big sector here in Lindsay,” she said.
While in Penrith, Senator Ryan also visited McCarthy Catholic College, which boasts a Trade Training Centre, and Garton Group McDonald’s to discuss a range of issues.