Girls get hands-on industry experience

Southland Girls’ High School pupils (from left) Sophia Barton (16), Ane Schutte (16), Brooke...
Southland Girls’ High School pupils (from left) Sophia Barton (16), Ane Schutte (16), Brooke Brown-Ogilvy (17) and Piper Varcoe (17) relax on the boat to Manapouri Power Station. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A group of Southland high school pupils swapped the classroom this week for a "hands-on" experience learning more about the infrastructure industry.

Twenty-four girls from Fiordland College, James Hargest College and Southland Girls’ High School visited the Manapouri power station earlier this week to learn more about the energy sector.

They turned their hand to cabling and domestic wiring exercises, and had a closer look at the station’s turbines as part of the 2022 Girls with Hi-Vis (GWHV) campaign.

Connexis director Kaarin Gaukrodger, who managed the initiative, said the infrastructure industry — which includes the energy sector, as well as civil construction, telecommunications and water — was facing a severe shortage of skilled workers.

Attracting women to those careers was part of the answer, she said.

"Less than 14% of New Zealand’s civil construction workforce are women, and the sector’s business owners say finding skilled workers remains its biggest challenge," she said.

"Those types of discrepancies across the country’s infrastructure sector demonstrate a clear need to promote the full range of infrastructure jobs in a way that makes them appealing to women."

Ms Gaukrodger said it was fantastic to witness the enthusiasm from the students at the Meridian Energy’s Manapouri station.

"The exciting thing about GWHV is that it not only gets female students excited about a career in infrastructure, it connects them directly in with employers in their local region keen to see more women on site."

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