Photo: Nedburn Thaffe

Claudia Chambers can easily match skills with any male carpenter and also hold her own equally behind a welding torch.

“I just love building things,” says Ms. Chambers, who is a certified welder and carpenter.

“I like the fact that when I build something I can actually go back and look at it and say I built that,” she tells JIS News.

After leaving high school, Ms. Chambers, who hails from Top Hill District in St. Catherine, had plans to become a mathematics teacher.

She enrolled at the St. Andrew-based Shortwood Teachers’ College, but quit her studies after a year. It wasn’t long before she fell in love with a new career path.

“It was while working at a bus company, as a secretary, that I saw some guys doing it [welding] and I fell in love with it immediately,” she recalls.

She enrolled at the HEART Trust/NTA’s National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) Lluidas Vale campus shortly thereafter, with the goal of becoming the best in the profession.

In 2013, she obtained a diploma in welding and fabrication, setting off her career as a professional welder. But the woman who admits to having an affinity for male-dominated career paths did not stop there.

“After completing my diploma, I couldn’t find a job, and I am a person who believes that if I am not earning, I should be learning,” she tells JIS News.

“I heard about a new programme at the school called Wall and Ceiling Lining that involves carpentry, so I went and asked the instructor if I could join. I completed the course in 2014, and that’s how I ended up in carpentry,” she says.

After finishing her studies, Ms. Chambers landed a job working as a carpenter for a major hotel on the north coast.

Her dream of one day working inside a classroom has also materialised, as she now spends most of her days at the NCTVET Lluidas Vale campus, where she is hired as a demonstrator.

“In my role as a demonstrator, if the teacher is absent, I assist the trainees in resolving whatever issues they may have. I also help to maintain discipline,” she explains.

The Top Hill resident also uses her skills as a welder to make a living. She says her ultimate goal is to own her own business. “I might start my own business one day, doing a mixture of things – carpentry, welding and plumbing,” she says.

Ms. Chambers admits that people are often surprised by her career path, but she encourages other ladies not to shy away from entering professions that are often regarded as reserved for males.

“A lot of people are impressed when they find out that a female is capable of doing this type of job, and not complaining about lifting things,” she says.

“I believe that any profession you want to enter as a woman, you can do it. No profession is solely for men or women,” she notes.

March 8 is being observed as International Women’s Day under the theme ‘#PressforProgress’.

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