Celebrating female success in the painting industry

Chelsey Froese is now a BCITO qualified painter living in Queenstown having originally moved from Canada on a working holiday visa. We spoke to Chelsey about her decision to remain in New Zealand and undertake an apprenticeship.

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“I came to New Zealand to do a childcare job. While it was a nice experience, I wanted to do something different, and stay in the country. From a young age I was watching renovation shows and painting my own room, so taking on a painting and decorating apprenticeship with BCITO felt like the right next step.”

Chelsey has excelled in her apprenticeship and taken home several awards for her technical skills and industry knowledge of the trade. One award was the 2020 Painting & Decorating Apprentice of the Year, a particularly impressive achievement considering she was only in the second year of her qualification.

“After showing the local judge examples of my work and explaining a bit about myself, I was selected as a finalist for the Lower South region. I was then flown to Rotorua with the other national finalists, where we attended the Master Painters conference, and took part in a practical painting competition.”

The finalists had to paint a children’s playhouse as a Māori Wharenui in traditional colours, but had creative freedom on how to utilise these. Chelsey found the win to be a massive boost of confidence, especially as a female immigrant who had only just started in the industry.

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But Chelsey’s commitment to painting and industry excellence didn’t end there. She was selected as a finalist in the National Association of Women in Construction Awards Tradeswomen of the Year category and is undertaking a BCITO Certificate in Construction Trades Supervisor course.

“I take up every opportunity to expand my knowledge of the trades. I’m learning a lot about project management, conflict resolution, and the wider industry. It’s particularly useful now that I’m managing my own sites and managing three other girls on site, who are learning and growing in the industry.”

Chelsey says she has a supportive employer who makes her feel comfortable as a woman in the trades.

“My boss is great at supporting us both inside and outside of work. I’ve been working with him since the beginning of my painting career. The one time I felt uncomfortable on site, my boss quickly handled and resolved the situation.”

BCITO is working towards its goal of women making up 10% of its apprentices by 2025. The organisation has a strong Women in Trades strategy, which focuses on raising awareness of initiatives to support women, prioritising learner success, developing learner pathways and partnering with like-minded stakeholders.

BCITO needs more people from all backgrounds to consider a career in the trades. To learn more, head to https://bcito.org.nz/apprentices/.    

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