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More women in energy sector the Ultimit aim

27 August 2012

More women in energy sector the Ultimit aim

Dame Jenny Shipley is challenging New Zealand’s energy sector to future proof its workforce.

And it’s all about enticing women into the industry – at the frontline and in the board room.

Dame Jenny is making the call as she prepares to launch Ultimit (formerly Women in Power), a collaborative energy sector initiative opening pathways for women into the traditionally male-dominated industry.

Ultimit is the initiative of the Electricity Supply Industry Training Organisation (ESITO) with support from founding partners Northpower and Electrix.

Despite women comprising 51 per cent of New Zealand’s population, the number of female trainees enrolled in trade or technical qualifications is just 2 per cent.

“There are already a number of women out in the field successfully working as line mechanics and cable jointers for energy companies throughout New Zealand but we are talking single figures and we want to see more diversity on the frontline and at other levels throughout our sector,” says Dame Jenny.

“These women have proven they can do the job on the tools. Many others who started out in trades years ago are now in positions of power within our sector and while there appears to be enough New Zealanders to fill the 12,000 roles within the energy industry now, that could change in years to come.

“So we need to gear up and develop a talent pool to meet future workforce needs, particularly with the competition we have from the Australian job market.”

Dame Jenny says women are the obvious target for filling this void.

“It is critical we entice women into the energy sector – they have so much to offer. I want women to be ambitious and look to where they can add value to this industry because it really is a growing part of the NZ economy which drives economic productivity.”

Dame Jenny believes it is critical for NZ to have more women in key wealth creation and decision making roles within the energy sector.

“I want women to expect to be there at strategic, board, technical and decision making levels.”

She says the Ultimit initiative fits well with the NZ Inc philosophy of growing our own people.

“Ultimit gives young women career opportunities that are currently not visible to them. It will open pathways beyond technical and trade roles for those wishing to progress. As our Ultimit ambassadors – women already plying their trades at all levels in the energy sector – visit schools throughout New Zealand and share their journeys, I hope more youth will see a similarly viable career pathway.”

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