New Zealand’s trades industry is opening doors to women this June through training organisation Connexis’ annual ‘Girls with Hi Vis’ programme.
Aimed at girls aged 15 and up and women wanting to change careers, the programme aims to raise awareness and encourage more women into trade and technical roles.
Women already working in the trades will also discuss their career paths.
Connexis chief executive Toby Beaglehole says women only account for 6 per cent of employees in the infrastructure sector so are a major potential employment pool in an industry struggling with worker shortages.
He said Meridian took on an apprentice and two work experience placements after last year’s event and PowerNet in Invercargill employed an electrical apprentice. The first events are at Meridian Energy’s Twizel plant on June 4 and in Taupo on June 5, when Contact Energy opens its Wairakei power station.
Contact workforce capability specialist Jenny Macdonald, who manages the company’s hosting of the event, says Contact has been involved for four years at its Clyde Power Station and its expanding its involvement to the North Island this year.
“We want to make sure the day is really hands-on for the girls so they get a taste of what it’s like to work at a power station.”
Macdonald says the girls get tours of the power stations and can take part in activities such as science exercise and a scavenger hunt.
Contact also keeps in touch with the girls so they can gain a potential career path at the company.
Christchurch-based electrical engineering trainee Holly Murphy signed up for an apprenticeship through Connexis in 2010 and was the first female trainee in New Zealand to gain dual qualifications in electricity transmissions and line distribution. She is now studying towards a Diploma in Electrical Engineering with Orion.
“I was initially based in Auckland for my three-year apprenticeships but then my work took me all over the North Island,” Murphy says.
“During my apprenticeships I also spent more than six months on a fly-in, fly-out project in Kiribati where we built 28km of towers and installed 300 power lines.”
She said being able to earn and work while she learned enabled her to buy her first home in Auckland when she was 21 and to enjoy international travel with her partner.
“The energy industry is very definitely my chosen career. One of the best things about it is that it is smaller than lots of people think and it is very close-knit.”
She is now planning to move into contract management roles.
“I like the idea of helping plan and design the growth of New Zealand’s energy grid.”
Visit the Connexis website for more information and to register for one the events running throughout the country in June.