Covid sparks new career for mum of three

Martin Svehla Energy, eNews, News

When the Covid pandemic struck in 2020, it turned out to be life-changing for cable jointer Chloe Dean.

She was made redundant from her office job as an immigration adviser. “Thanks to Covid I was forced to make choices I might not have made otherwise. I had nothing to lose and followed a dream I thought I would be too old to start.”

That dream was, starting over, in her early 40s as a mum of three, as a trainee cable jointer with Independent Line Services (ILS) in Christchurch. Chloe has recently completed her NZ Certificate in Electricity Supply — Cable Jointing Level 4 through Connexis and is excited about what the future holds with ILS.

“I feel like, with the training, I’ve done the groundwork and now is when the work really begins. The last few years have been quite tough, particularly training and being a mum to three kids, but ILS came along at just the right time. It’s a very good family and a very good company to work for.”

Some of Chloe’s previous jobs have included working in Corrections and dairy farming so she’s no stranger to hard work, but loves the teamwork and challenges that being a cable jointer brings.

An average day involves working from 7.30am to 4pm with plenty of time on the tools, working on underground lines cable laying for maintenance or for new housing subdivisions. Then there’s time spent building network fuse and switch boxes.

“One of the challenges has been that I really had to start from scratch. I’ve done a lot of practical stuff in other jobs, like dairy farming but I hadn’t done a lot with tools so I had to learn all that,” she says.

“A day can be pretty variable in what you work on,’’ she says. “The job is what I had hoped it would be and I am enjoying it more than I thought I would. It took a while for the old body to loosen up but overall I feel much healthier working outside and keeping fit. My mind is also challenged every day.”

One thing Chloe would like to see is more women taking on jobs in the electrical supply industry (ESI). “There’s quite a few women electricians now but still not many cable jointers or line mechanics.

“I’d love to see more women get involved, or give it a try. It can be tough. You have to be prepared to really be a pioneer, because it is still very male-dominated, but it’s a really good, interesting job.

I am surprised more women don’t do the role. There is no reason why they would not be just as good as the blokes. Some of the tiny trenches can require some good yoga positions!”