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Cummins South Pacific has won the SALT Australia 2019 award in recognition of its efforts to achieve gender equality and inclusivity within its trade workforce.

SALT – Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen – began as a non-profit organisation in 2009 to provide a support network for tradeswomen, apprentices and women who wish to enter the trades.

“This award is a huge win for the all the Cummins people who contribute to our apprentice program and other initiatives to attract more women into our business,” said Steph Disher, managing director of Cummins South Pacific. 

“We’re committed to gender equality, especially in operational roles. For this reason, we’re putting in a lot of effort to increase the number of females in all three of our apprenticeship streams – mechanical, electrical and parts. In 2019, 18 percent of our apprentice intake were females and we are aiming higher with our 2020 intake.”

This is significantly higher than the national average of 2.5 percent of females in automotive trades in Australia.

In addition to the company award, Cummins also celebrated a SALT merit award won by Swan Hill apprentice Maddy Price for excellence in her apprenticeship and volunteer work she has done for SALT ‘SkillWomen’ workshops run for local female students.

Initiatives that have been leveraged to bring about the desired change at Cummins include partnering with Cummins TEC (Technical Education for Communities), sponsorship of Girls Academy through the Cummins Powers Women program, and partnering with local schools, TAFEs, WorldSkills Australia, women in trades networks, and SALT.

The TEC program creates community partnerships between schools, employers and community stakeholders which support students in their transition from school to employment in the industry. Cummins also runs successful Women in Automotive events at its branches across the country for year 10, 11 and 12 female students and encourages students to undertake work experience in the industry

SALT points out that there are only about 5,500 tradeswomen across Australia. “At Cummins and across the industry in general we still have a lot to do to bring gender equality in operational roles,” says Steph Disher. “We should continue to ask the question: 50-50… if not, why not?”

From left: Cummins Wetherill Park service manager Glenn Hayhow, Cummins Brisbane apprentice Jessica Steer, and Cummins major accounts manager for mining Sarah Bilston.