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Up Education

Elenoa: A trailblazer in the trades industry

23 Jul 2021

After months of rigorous warfare training in the Navy as a Combat Systems Specialist, in mid-2020, Elenoa Tabudravu decided to retrain as a plumber and gasfitter at *NZMA.

Elenoa has joined the tide of exceptional women realising their potential in the trades industry at the NZMA Trades West campus – an education space that embraces tikanga Māori ways of learning and supports hundreds of Māori and Pasifika students to succeed.

Elenoa didn’t always think she would end up being a tradie as the sector had traditionally been dominated by men. But the adventure of sailing through the ocean on a fifty-ton Navy ship gave her the confidence that she could do anything she put her mind to.

“I went to boarding school when I was 13 so I gained my independence quite young. And then, when I went to the Navy, I was faced with the hardest challenges of my life. I’ve become much stronger and better at adapting to change because of it.”

Now, she is a trailblazer in the trades industry – one of the growing number of women in the sector going against the status quo.

Soon, she will graduate with a Level 3 Certificate in Plumbing and Gas-fitting – putting her in good stride towards her long-term goal of owning her own trades business one day.

Three job interviews later, Elenoa has been offered an apprenticeship with Collins Plumbing, Gas, Heating & Drainage – showing that a drastic career change is not nearly as daunting as it may seem.

“I encourage women to consider a career in trades. You don’t have to have any prior knowledge, just the right attitude. There are many supportive learning spaces like NZMA that can help you overcome barriers to kick-start your career.”

*NZMA offers NZQA accredited courses in business, construction, contact centre, cookery, hospitality and retail from Level 2 right through to diploma level across 11 campuses throughout New Zealand. NZMA Careers assist with part time and full time employment, work experience placements and internships for students and graduates.

NZMA website