NZ Women Leading in Panelbeating and Car Painting

We’re pleased to see the significant profile showcasing women in the panelbeating and car painting trades in the current Collision Repair Assoc mag PanelTalk. We’ve featured women in the collision repair trades before, most recently at but women are still woefully under-represented in the trade and the issue warrants much more profile.

PanelTalk comments that more young women are finally choosing to enter what has always been a very male dominated sector. We certainly commend those women on their career choice, and the business owners for broadening their thinking and spotting a valuable employee when they see one. PanelTalk also profiled some of these employers including Porirua Auto Body Repairs who now have a 40% female staff led by co-owner Wendy Arnold-Mackie who heads the paint shop. Wendy’s team includes adult apprentice Tatiana Massey who is already a qualified auto mechanic, and Melissa Fitt, a trainee panelbeater. Queenstown Panelbeaters is also featured, with a unique claim to having their paint refinishing section fully staffed by female apprentices and trades-women. Both business comment that their women are highly skilled and motivated, and that the improved gender balance has had an enormously positive effect on the wider business culture. Many panelbeating and car painting businesses are owned and/or operated by women with great success too. Annette Gibson was profiled in PanelTalk and runs CE Spray Collision Repairs in Masterton, which is owned by Helen Mathewson. Annette recently won a MITO Business Skills Scholarship and is now completing her National Certificate in Business level 4.

The Motor Industry Training Organisation (MITO) recently ran road-show promotions throughout the country that attracted wide interest from young women interested in a career path in the automotive trades. MITO is lead by a women, CEO Janet Lane, and the promotional tour was lead by MITO’s Strategic Communications Manager Rachael Dippie. PanelTalk said that feedback from the tours indicated that perceptions of the panelbeating and car painting industry were changing radically. Both the students and career advisers attending, all discovered that the industry is a lot more technically advanced than they realised. The tours also highlighted that gender is no barrier to work that has transitioned over recent decades from heavy dirty manual labour, to much more sophisticated technician grade work that requires a scientific approach and a high level of intelligence. Many female students attended and PanelTalk included a brief interview with 17yr old Brandi Harrison from Kelston Girls High who now has her eyes firmly fixed on a diesel mechanic apprenticeship. We wish Brandi and all those other young women every success in their employment search, and a bright & rewarding career in panelbeating and car painting or the wider automotive trades!

NOTE: the image shows Reanna McGreevey, a 21yr old panelbeater

4 Responses

  1. Terri
    | Reply

    How fantastic is this to see women achieving at the top of traditional trades. It would be very inspiring for some of these young girls to see these inspiring role models too. Well done Crash Team, a very interesting read, lets see some more of it!

  2. Reg P
    | Reply

    There have always been a few women in trade and they’ve usually been pretty good . Crash Management boss Karen Knight owned a big panel shop in South Auckland and had a lot to do with the CRA in the early days too. These females have never been included much in PanelTalk before so its good to see some attention now maybe its the PC thing to do these days. Aussie Panel & Paint website has a whole section about women in the trade so could be a good idea for PanelTalk as well. It’s good to see MITO doing something about getting more girls interested in the panel and paint trades as well and your right some of the best paint refinishers are women they have a good eye for detail. It’s hard to get kids interested in the trade these days so hopefully these keen young girls can fill the skills gap.

  3. Suze
    | Reply

    Congrats to Cassidy Repia named IAG Top Apprentice of the Year for Paint Refinishing last year – go girl! We’re all very proud of you. Well done PanelTalk too for carrying on the profile of women in our trades again this month.

  4. Hammer Head
    | Reply

    You missed the big story of the year Crash. Everyones known about the labour shortage crisis in the panel & paint business for YEARS. And FINALLY the governments got its head out of the sand and let us add the panel & paint trades to the skills shortage list – FINALLY!
    There are some good labour imports already working here but its been high drama and slow to get them in. Now finally it will be easier and faster to get staff from off shore thanks to the CRAs work on this problem. The collision repair business has never been busier so at least this answers one of the problems. The other one won’t be so easy convincing Ozzie owned mega corporate insurance companies that their misserable $60/hr labour rate is killing the trade. Maybe now the CRA can zero in on crisis number 2!

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