Certificate III in Wall and Floor Tiling (CPC31320)
Forging a career as a wall and floor tiler is a decision that Sokoveti Baleilagi is proud of.
Despite the many challenges of working in a male-dominated trade, Sokoveti says she never gave up on her goal to become a qualified tradesperson.
After completing her secondary education, she started as a casual worker at construction sites where she learned about the basics of tiling.
Although employed, Sokoveti knew that she needed to get a formal qualification to excel in her career. This led to completing Certificate III in Wall and Floor Tiling (CPC31320) at the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC).
Sokoveti is among over 5,900 Fijian graduates, including 2,249 women, supported by the Australian Government through APTC to gain qualifications and skills for vocational careers.
“The opportunity to study at APTC was an eye-opener. Getting back to the classroom after a couple of years was not easy and being the only female in the class did not help.
But I continued to upgrade my skills and knowledge and gained the confidence to work closely with the male students,” she says.
Despite interruptions in her study journey due to COVID-19, support from her trainers and family helped her to complete her studies.
After her studies, Sokoveti landed a full-time job at Pacific Building Solutions (PBS), one of the largest construction companies in Fiji.
“Tile installation needs a lot of attention to detail, hard work, and patience. Some tasks can be physically demanding and difficult to carry out so I had to learn to follow processes and do things in the right way.”
“I was fortunate to start my work just a day after my interview. I know that my qualification played a big part. I am applying the skills I learned during my course to my current job, and sometimes, I even surprise my male colleagues with my skills,” she adds.
Sokoveti’s skills and work ethic have not gone unnoticed by John Blake, the PBS Site Manager and Supervisor.
“Since joining PBS, she has been involved at a couple of job sites where she was the only female. She is attentive to her work, shows commitment and seeks clarification on things she is unsure of,” Blake said.
Sokoveti, a resident of Bau Island, explains that rising before the break of dawn daily is not easy but it’s all worth it as she is able to provide for her parents and her little daughter.
“Building a career in this construction industry has changed my life. I am proud of my achievements and I will continue working hard. Nothing is too difficult and all we need is a positive attitude in life,” Sokoveti says.
Her advice to women is to do away with the mindset that the trades industry is only for males and to take advantage of the great opportunities that technical and vocational education and training (TVET) provides.
APTC is Australia’s flagship TVET program in the Pacific and Timor-Leste, contributing to a more skilled, inclusive, and productive workforce