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Booming Trades Industry Seeks "girl Power" To Solve Skills Shortage

Inspiring women and girls to take up career opportunities in the booming trade sector was the focus of an event in Porirua today.

About 100 young women, made up of jobseekers and students from local secondary schools and Whitireia Polytechnic, gathered at Te Rauparaha Arena to hear from women employed in trades, construction and infrastructure.

The aim of the event was to increase awareness about career opportunities within these sectors, and provide information and guidance on career pathways, study choices, apprenticeships and more.

Young wahine were able to chat with women doing the mahi in a diverse range of careers including electrical, building, bricklaying, roading, horticulture, urban design, architecture, surveying, marketing, HR & procurement, engineering and asset management.

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker said with the industry booming, the answer to the nationwide skills shortage could be our very own wahine.

"We’re proud in Porirua to have women and girls achieving in many areas - in sports, business, at school or in the community.

"We’d love to see lots of our young women jumping into this growing industry - learning valuable skills, securing great careers and keeping the country and economy moving."

Deputy Mayor Izzy Ford, who opened the event, said the perception that only men could - or should - excel in these professions was a thing of the past.

"There are great and varied careers to be had in this sector, so let’s make sure we wahine get amongst it."

Sharon Scott, People & Performance Manager from Higgins said in an industry with a significant skill shortage it made no sense not to tap into 50 per cent of the workforce.

"We believe we can offer some great career opportunities for women who do join our organisation given the diversity of roles we can offer from working on a paving crew, driving specialised equipment, leading a team, being the Chief Financial Officer - the sky is the limit!"

Christine Davies, Performance Manager, Downer NZ said women had much to offer the industry.

"Women are critical thinkers that can add value to the trades industry with solutions and out of the box thinking every day."

Downer’s Business Support Manager Ongelle Fincham said it would take time to change attitudes and stereotypes about women in construction and trades.

"We are progressing as a society and are hiring more and more extremely capable women into our industry.

We bring our own set of skills, expertise and prowess that challenge the deeply embedded misconceptions that women don’t belong in the cab of a 40-tonne digger."

The event was jointly run by Partners Porirua and Porirua City Council.

Workforce Development Manager at Partners Porirua, Jacqui Edwards, said she would like to see employers encouraged and supported to employ more women, and to see more young women apprentices.

"There‘s a lot of work in the sector and it would be good if more women could benefit from that."

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