About six years of study and practical training has culminated in one dedicated young woman becoming South Africa’s first ship builder artisan.The 26-year-old Candra Pedro, a resident of Bonteheuwel, is living out her dream as a shipbuilder at Armscor, at the Simon’s Town navy dockyard. While this particular path was not always her goal, she now finds great accomplishment in pioneering the female journey through a male-dominated industry.She explains: “Even in my training I can truly understand why this is male-dominated, but we as women do add to the expansion of numerous trades, we are valuable as we bring a different perspective to each trade.” She adds: “Shipbuilding just blew my mind and my heart. I want to continue in this field, continue studying and grow in knowledge and experience, and become a naval architect.” A ship builder artisan, according to Pedro, is a builder who can work on any sea vessel regardless of its make or purpose, or even its structure – whether it’s made of wood, metal, fibreglass or even if it’s a submarine. “We should be able to work with any material onboard any vessel. Also, a shipbuilder should be able to do basic welding and also be able to do gas cutting. We should be able to read technical drawings and know ship terminology. “We are strictly hands-on from manufacturing to fixing items of any material onboard any type of vessel but our field can expand even into the surveying of vessels to engineering technical drawings regarding various vessels,” she says, adding that training also allows people to find their niche within the industry.She says it was not an easy road for her, but it is one that has many opportunities. “There are prospects in this field. Our country is surrounded by water, so I would say there is hope in ship building and the marine industry. We just need the right people to see the prospects in this as well.”She encourages all people who have an affinity for hands-on work – especially women – to learn more about the field and start looking into this type of work as a viable career path. “Just promise yourself never to quit, no matter how long it takes or how old you feel or even if you don’t feel like you can do it all, just tell yourself, ‘I can’ and you’re halfway there,” she says.