Keira-Lee Knott and Samarra Porter are the latest inductees in the Queensland Government’s building and construction program, QBuild, to learn carpentry.
The Indigenous 17-year-olds will join an additional 30 apprentices as part of the 2023 QBuild intake, bringing the total number of apprentices in the QBuild Apprenticeship Program to 102.
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said the teens were the future of Far North Queensland’s building industry and the Queensland Government was proud to back them.
“Keira-Lee and Samarra represent the next generation of tradies – and through their QBuild apprenticeships they’ll get the best of training,” said Minister Crawford.
“It’s wonderful to see young people lining up to learn a trade and it’s even more special when they’re young women, because we need more female representation in all trades.”
Cairns teenager Samarra Porter wants to build homes for families in rural communities once she’s finished her QBuild apprenticeship, as well as help her father on the tools in their home.
She says she was inspired to pursue a career in construction after seeing her dad renovate the family home. “I wanted to get in and do the same thing,” Porter added. “He’s really proud of me.”
“I heard about QBuild through the school-based Apprentice Program, put my name down and was able to carry out a week’s work experience.”
The carpentry apprentice said she enjoyed the work and the people at QBuild. “I love working with my hands and enjoyed carpentry at school – I’m interested in building unique-styled houses when I complete my apprenticeship,” she said.
Keira-Lee Knott has similar aspirations to help Queenslanders get into homes and combat a state-wide shortage of tradies. “I actually cried when I was told [about the apprenticeship] and can’t wait to start,” she said. “I hadn’t heard of QBuild until the school-based Apprentice Program was offered.”
“I really enjoyed my week of work experience at QBuild – I liked working with the team and carrying out repairs on the properties.”
Knott will work every Wednesday with QBuild as part of the school-based apprenticeship.
National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Queensland president Sheree Taylor said the association’s goal for women to make up 25 per cent of the industry by 2025 is ambitious, but “it represents an important leap forward in creating cultural change for the construction industry”.
“NAWIC has a long and valued association with the Queensland Government,” said Taylor. “We built the Cannon Hill exemplar project together and those projects are helping more women get involved in the industry.”
“Young women such as Samarra and Keira-Lee taking on apprenticeships is important for the male-dominated industry and sharing these stories allows other women to open their minds to a rewarding career in the construction industry.
“You can be, what you can see.”
Cook MP Cynthia Lui said QBuild workers go beyond the Cape – up to Thursday Island and to some even more remote communities, helping construct Government Employee Housing and carrying out maintenance on public buildings.
“Without their expertise, many of these communities would struggle to maintain their public facilities and the government would not be able to provide services to these areas appropriately,” Lui said.
“And the invaluable role QBuild plays after natural disasters, such as cleaning and repairing schools and hospitals after cyclones or floods, or even rebuilding after bushfires, helps communities recover much more quickly than they otherwise would.”
Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said the commitment to rebuild QBuild was a continuing one and with Queensland facing a severe shortage of qualified workers in all trades, every graduating apprentice helped boost the workforce.
“Many choose to stay with QBuild for their entire career but others transition to private industry, helping combat the shortage of workers experienced by most construction companies,” he said.
“And in the meantime, we’ve greatly boosted the capability of QBuild to respond quickly to natural disasters anywhere in the state.
“Our depots range from the southern border with NSW right up to the Cape and west into the outback.”