Addressing this recruitment challenge is a driving factor behind Girls with Hi-Vis (GWHV), an annual initiative by Connexis, the ITO for the infrastructure sector held throughout the month of June. GWHV promotes the recruitment of women into the industry.
The nationwide programme sees companies in the Civil, Energy, Telecommunication and 3Water industries open their doors for a day in June, specifically to women interested in knowing more about what they do and the career opportunities available.
Females only account for about 4% of employees in the Infrastructure Industries in general - an incredibly low figure given females make up 50% of the population, meaning that females are well under represented in the industry.
Connexis Chief Executive Peter Benfell says GWHV is a unique opportunity for women to find out about job options they had never previously considered or didn’t realise were available.
"Girls with Hi-Vis offers women of all ages and backgrounds, and from all over the country, a hands-on taste of a work day with our major infrastructure companies. They can also hear from other women already working the industry, and maybe see where they might have a future."
Attracting more women to infrastructure careers is vital for the future of the sector, he says. "If our sector is to continue to grow and operate at world standards, we need more skilled workers. Why would you ignore half the population in your recruitment plan?
"All the companies we are working with on Girls with Hi-Vis are keen to recruit quality employees and they can see that women are crucial to achieving that." There are many opportunities available within the industries. Women can begin their career in Infrastructure 'hands-on' out in the field and progress from there, or if they have suitable skills and experience they can start at management level straight away. The options and possibilities are endless."
Twizel Area School student Holly Frewan is a perfect example of the doors GWHV can open. After visiting Meridian Energy’s GWHV event last year the 16-year-old now works with Meridian once a week on a Gateway programme. The company is now looking to support Holly through a Mechanical Pre-trade course before taking her on as an apprentice.
"I was already taking engineering in school but had never really thought about taking it further. That Girls with Hi-Vis event really opened my eyes to what was possible.
"I can say that I definitely have a career path in mind now, and I don’t think I could have said that a year ago."
Meridian Energy will repeat its Twizel event this year on June 21 as well as another in Wellington on June 25 specifically for school students. Other energy companies are also involved with Contact Energy holding a GWHV event in Otago on June 14 and Genesis in Turangi on June 7.
In the water sector, GWHV events include one hosted by Veolia in Queenstown on June 6 and Watercare in Mangere on June 20. Civil sector GWHV events include Fulton Hogan in Christchurch on June 19 and Simcox Construction in Blenheim on June 13.
For a full list of Girls with Hi-Vis events and contact information visit www.connexis.org.nz/gwhv for more details