Working Women

Reporter: Andrea Burns

If you have common sense and a drivers licence, WA industry has about seventy thousand good reasons for you to join it.Terry says "people are very surprised and don't for a minute think bus driving could be that well paying"

"If you want a challenge this is it" Mums like forty four year old Jackie Leece are the target of new campaigns by employers desperate for staff in WA's booming economy. "I didn't think you could earn that kind of money with someone like me who hasn't got much of a school education, any diplomas or anything"

If getting her motorbike licence was a milestone for single mum, Jackie... getting her bus licence was the start of a whole new, and lucrative, career. "You can work casual, part time or full time, I choose to work full time and put in as much as I can the money is very rewarding"

"They've got a great rapport with people, they come across well with the public and they're kind on the machinery", Southern Coast Transit's Terry Scott says women of all ages - mums, students, and semi-retirees - are being targeted by his company to drive buses. These advertisements are currently running in local papers. "We've lost a considerable number of people to the mining boom and when you look at police and nurses and teachers, we're no different to any other occupation in wa at the moment, its difficult" And the rewards can be enormous. Terry says "it can be as lucrative as you want it to be" Base salary, around forty five thousand. Last year Southern Coast Transit's top earning male driver took home eighty thousand dollars. Their top earning female did less overtime, but still pocketed seventy five thousand.

"It is a lot of money and the money is there if you want to work a little bit harder" Marilyn Mort used to sell dress fabrics, these days she mixes it with the blokes at the bus company - and she loves it. "When I came for the job someone had suggested that that would be my career and I said no way I can't drive a bus, don't worry about that, they'll teach you, nothing to lose, have a go and it really has been the best thing"

Michelle says "it's local, which helps and they're willing to train you up pretty much from scratch which not many companies can do that at the moment" Trainees, twenty eight year former cleaner old Michelle Garrity and sixty two year old grandmother Sandra Barr say they see bus driving as, not just a job, but a potentially high paying career. Sandra's left the mining industry for bus driving - with penalty rates she expects to be taking home even more cash.

Tom Parker of recruitment company , Integrated says the bus industry's not the only one crying out for women to join it's ranks. Ladies who've ever wanted to get behind the wheel of these monsters are also in demand. "There is no longer a gender specific to any role in the market place, any person can do any job" He says workers may need to take on extra training, like getting a special drivers' licence, but it's well worth the effort, with some salaries topping one hundred thousand dollars. "It would cost the average mum out there in between 1000 and 1500 dollars to gain the necessary licences and pass the necessary tests to end up on a mine site working on any number of a variety of positions" To try to attract more women, ads will run in Valentines Day pull outs in papers this week. Tom Parker says along with more women on mine sites, he's also seeing another trend.

Tom says "we occasionally have people come into our office where the father is a stay at home dad and looks after the dad, has young kids at primary school and the mother is off working on a mine site doing 3 and 1' or 2 and 1 and that is becoming more and more" And it's not only mining companies crying out for people - recruitment companies are also looking to recruit particularly female, recruiters. "In the positions that we've placed in our consultants roles, females tend to be more adept to the pressure and the requirements and the flexibility that is needed in these consulting roles and many of them have succeeded into management positions"

Both bosses emphasise there's nothing wrong with blokes work, but with WA's unemployment at around only 3 per cent, more employers are having to look further a field. These women say getting back to work has been the making of them - personally AND financially. Jackie says "I want to show women out there there's no boundaries, you can do anything"