Jo builds a new career


Starting over in a new career can be daunting.

Doing so with two young kids, and entering a male-dominated industry, isn’t for the faint-hearted.

But that’s exactly what Queenstown tradie Jo Sterling did.

Now nearly three years into her building apprenticeship, Sterling, 30, is an Apprentice of the Year contestant.

She’ll find out at the end of the month if she has placed in the southern regional competition, and if she wins first place, she’ll go on to compete in the national competition later in the year.

Becoming a builder was a big leap from her previous work in early childhood care, she says.

“I studied woodwork at school, had worked at PlaceMakers and I’d always enjoyed building things in my spare time. So the idea didn’t come completely out of the blue. Once I’d made my mind up, I started asking around and talking to a few people about apprenticeships. I got a few laughs from some people, but luckily, I had a friend who was a builder and I told him I was interested. He said he’d give me a job and I still work for him now.”

She’s also keen to encourage more women into the industry.

“When I was at school, I didn’t really think that women could go into the trades. I’ll talk to other women, now, and they say they’d love to do it and think it would be a really cool job.

“I think if you have a passion for it, then there’s nothing stopping you from being able to do it.”