by Rehana Basson – West Coast TVET College Recruitment Practitioner

Becoming a qualified welder is usually seen as being male-dominated and not a career path that would be chosen by women, but this is not the case for two (2) of West Coast TVET College female students.

Thaakirah Wilken and Deidre Petersen both reside on the West Coast and are 21 years of age. Both are busy with their Apprenticeship at Vredenburg Campus and are enjoying every moment of it. They are currently doing their company exposure and upon their return, they will do their trade test in 2022 and if successful (which I am sure they would be), become qualified boilermakers.

Wilken mentions that she always had an interest in Welding because her aunt is a qualified welder. According to

Petersen on the other hand, she was not sure what she wanted to study, attended a workshop session, and immediately felt at home.

Petersen mentions: “seeing other female students practise in the workshop inspired me and I thought to myself, women can also do what men do. Wilken strongly agrees with Petersen and feels that some women can sometimes even do it better than men can.

The two ladies them competed in the Provincial World Skills Competition for Welding in 2021 where they both ended up in the top three (3) in the Western Cape. They were the only female students in the Welding division. They are very passionate about what they do and have many dreams that they still want to achieve and accomplish. Wilken mentions that she wants to further her studies at the South African Institute of Welding after completion of her trade test. Petersen mentions that her plans entail to further her studies in welding and wants to become a welding inspector.

In the words of the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Science and Innovation, Buti Manamela on the launch of TVET Month in 2021 at West Coast TVET College: “Today, all this partriachial hierarchy is being challenged by women who are taking up powerful spaces in such trades and technical vocations as construction, engineering, welding, fitting, and turning. The days of patriarchy are progressively becoming a thing of the past.

Deidre Petersen and Thaakirah Wilken gearing up for the WorldSkills SA Competition