As a youngster, Fane Tukana Fiu was always intrigued by seeing homes being constructed in her neighbourhood. Keeping a tab on the different stages of the construction projects until it was completed gradually became one of her favourite topics. Little did Fiu realise that as she matured, the desire to pursue a career in carpentry would become an option after completing high school.
While Fiu knew that following a blue-collar career was not favoured much for women, she enrolled for the Certificate IV in Carpentry offered by the Fiji National University (FNU) to be at the forefront of a traditionally male-dominated industry.
The course, which is offered through FNU’s College of Engineering, Science & Technology (CEST), provides students with an opportunity to master the basic skills of carpentry. According to Fiu, the programme is relevant for students who, like her, did not have prior experience or skills in carpentry.
“The carpentry programme at FNU empowers women to become builders. Given that I never had any encouragement to engage in construction and building, my only option was to learn from the industry experts at FNU, Ba Campus,” she said.
The former Jasper Williams High School student adds that initially, there was resistance from family members of her choice of studies, but when they realised that she was serious about it, they provided great encouragement.
“No one in my family member is into trade, and at first, they weren’t too keen on the idea. But when I explained the importance of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) studies, they understood. I informed them that if I possess a trade qualification, I can have a job anywhere and even if I’m not going to do it forever, it’s a skill I possess my entire life.”
The Lauan lass said that there is always a demand for good carpenters, and she is looking forward to diverse and exciting work throughout her career.
“Carpenters play a vital role in the construction industry from putting down floorboards to fitting skirting and window frames. They work on both commercial and domestic projects, and projects can be highly varied.”
The budding carpenter Fiu stressed that students wishing to venture into carpentry would require numeracy and literacy skills.
“Don’t forget to brush up on calculations and communication skills as you’ll need to be able to read technical drawings, take measurements, calculate quantities and angles, so it’s important to have a good understanding of Maths and English,” she said.
While face to face classes has been placed on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions, Fiu is enjoying studying via the online mode.
“The lecturers at Ba campus are always ready to support and serve me whenever I have difficulty. Anytime I try to get in touch with them by phone or email, I receive a timely response which is very helpful.”
After completing the two-year programme, Fiu aims to expand her skill set by pursuing a Diploma in Construction through FNU. Fiu believes this will further develop her skills and knowledge in the building industry.
Fiu’s advice to women thinking about entering the carpentry field is, “just do it and if you think you’re capable of the job, do it.”