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Girls Get ‘hands-on’ In The Infrastructure Industry

Wellington, 5 July 2021: A series of ‘hands-on’ open days held throughout the country has opened the eyes of female secondary school students to a career in the infrastructure industry.

'Girls with Hi-Vis®' (GWHV) has seen events held nationwide throughout June to offer young women the opportunity to visit an infrastructure company through their school, get hands-on experience and hear from inspirational women in the industry. The open days provide an understanding about what’s involved in the many and varied roles in infrastructure’s Civil, Energy, Telco and Water industries.

A total of 539 students, from 64 schools in 11 regions (Auckland, Christchurch, Selwyn, Mackenzie, East Cape, Hawkes Bay, Otago, Southland, Taranaki, Taupo, Hamilton & Wellington) attended 23 events held by 14 host companies.

GWHV is an initiative of Connexis - the Infrastructure Industry Training Organisation (ITO) – and the month long event was held with support from the Ministry of Education.

Connexis CEO Kaarin Gaukrodger says, "It’s important that females are aware of all the career opportunities open to them including those in infrastructure and roles that may have previously been male dominated.

“The benefits of having both men and women working on our infrastructure has been highlighted in numerous research projects over the past 10 years. In response to this we’re actively working alongside industry to support, promote and increase numbers of women seeking a career in infrastructure.”

New Zealand’s infrastructure industry is booming with an estimated 44,000 additional workers needed over the next five years to keep the country moving. Roads need replacing, leaky water pipes upgrading, power lines maintaining and faster broadband technology installing – and the skills required to deliver the future face of infrastructure continues to grow.

The infrastructure industry is leading the way when it comes to employing women in what has traditionally been a male dominated sector, this year proudly reaching a target figure of 10% of women trainees in the industry. This has been a steady build over the years - 10 years ago only 3% of trainees were women.

The achievement of this year reaching a target figure of 10% of women trainees in the industry aligns with Connexis’s 10-year anniversary of Ultimit Women in Infrastructure, an ongoing drive to encourage, inspire and support women into trade and technical roles in infrastructure.

Feedback from some of the events:

“These Girls with Hi-Vis events are a fantastic opportunity for us to open our doors and show these keen inquisitive minds some new career possibilities.

It’s important that we show them that there is a wide range of interesting and challenging choices in the infrastructure industry.

“If we can ignite a spark, and be a positive influence on these young ladies’ careers that’s awesome. We want each and every one of them to realise their potential.”

Nanna Scrafton, National HR Manger, HEB Construction

Dunedin City Council event – held at the Southern Water Treatment Plant

“This GWHV event was a great opportunity for girls to see infrastructure in action. It was an opportunity for them to see a pathway they may not have even knew about, let alone considered. To have the day hosted by Water Treatment Operator and a Connexis Ultimit ambassador, Caitlin Robertson, was great for our young women, she presented with such passion and enthusiasm and it really demonstrated a rewarding and successful career is possible in this space for young women. “

Leeana Duncan - Bayfield High School Careers Advisor

Ruatoria event – hosted by Tairāwhiti Contractors

“Today has been an adventure. Lots of new friendly faces. Lots of stuff for men, but correction no it’s not! It’s for women as well. Today showed us that.”

Charniqua Kerei Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kawakawa mai Tawhiti

“This was an awesome opportunity for our young students and community. For our girls to have this opportunity was fantastic. They were able to really find out what infrastructure is all about and learn about career opportunities available to them.”

Helene Mahu

Te-Waha-O- Rerekohu Area School Careers Advisor

Napier – hosted by HEB Napier and Napier Port

“It’s about exposure for our students. They don’t know what they don’t know. Today has opened their eyes up to what’s available out there in a career in the infrastructure industry.”

Ngaire Begley-Dean

Wairoa College Careers Advisor

New Plymouth – hosted by Powerco & Downer

“It was scary but definitely a cool experience to go up in the bucket truck. I’ve always wanted to go up in one of those.”

Sarah Fabish – Spotswood College

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