‘More women should give signmaking a go’


31 August 2015

“With a career in signmaking I’ve found where I’m meant to be,” says Green Frog’s Nicki Bason who capped off a successful apprenticeship by taking out silver in the Signmaking Apprentice of the Year Awards 2015, and is one of an increasing number of women entering the industry.

In finding her career niche and building her skills, Nicki is a good example for others. Her approach is one that our Competenz Careers Team regularly advises others to follow.

1. Think about what you like doing. “I’d always enjoyed making things at school, and I liked design,” says Nicki. “Art, wood work and metal work appealed more than cooking. Signmaking is about design and it’s hands-on, and that really works for me. (Yes, she can cook too.)

2. Find out as much information as you can about the career you’re considering. “When I was trying to work out what to do I spoke to a family friend in the signmaking business. He was able to tell me what signmaking was all about.”

3. Show potential employers you’re keen to work hard. “I did a fill-in job for a week, working for free. It was a way to find out more and it got me a job.” The company liked what they saw in Nicki and the week’s work experience turned into the offer of a job and signmaking apprenticeship.

Nicki was hooked. “I really like the variety in the work. Most days I’m working in-house but I also get out on site to see clients.”

4. Recognise the benefits of earning while you’re learning. “I coach water polo to high school kids and I’m always telling them that uni’s not the be-all-and-end-all,” says Nicki. “With an apprenticeship you’re earning money from day one, and gaining skills you can use immediately. That’s a good feeling!”

5. Don’t let anything limit you. The trades offer good opportunities for everyone – including women. While the number of women in the signmaking industry is small, Nicki says there are plenty of reasons for women to consider a career as a signmaker.

“More women should give signmaking a go. I’ve never had any issues. You don’t have to be particularly tall or strong to work in the industry. In many companies you can specialise in design and set-up, as I have, rather than installation.”

Nicki says women bring skills that complement their male colleagues’ expertise. “We tend to be more detail-focussed, and add the finishing touches that customers really value.”

6. Make the most of opportunities to learn. Nicki has enjoyed her learning and says her colleagues and employers have been ‘awesome’ in sharing their experience.

About a Competenz signmaking apprenticeship

  • A signmaking apprenticeship is a structured programme of study over four years
  • Graduates build their skills in the workplace, working towards two nationally recognised certificates
  • www.competenz.org.nz/signmaking

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