Women have a major role to play in the future of Northland’s infrastructure sector.
That’s the belief of Northpower Network General Manager Josie Boyd following a ‘Girls in Infrastructure’ event at Golden Bay Cement south of Whangārei on Tuesday.
Hosted by the Northland Chapter of Women’s Infrastructure Network (part of Infrastructure New Zealand), of which Mrs Boyd is Chair, the event is designed to break down barriers and show senior high school students that careers in infrastructure can provide exciting pathways to employment.
The 2021 Girls in Infrastructure day was created to increase awareness of the awesome and diverse range of jobs across the infrastructure industry,” says Mrs Boyd.
The Women in Infrastructure Network Northland Committee is passionate about mentoring young Northland women and encouraging them to pursue interesting careers in infrastructure.
More than 70 female high school students aged over 16 (from over ten Northland schools and institutions) attended the highly successful event and by the end of the day some were even operating diggers. Ten local and national infrastructure companies were in attendance to share their knowledge and career pathways.
The infrastructure industry is absolutely for everybody and employers want to actively hire women but they are not coming through because they are not aware of the roles available. That is why we are creating awareness and giving students access to speak to women with successful careers in infrastructure – from engineers to crane operators, environmental planners, health and safety professionals and project managers."
A lot of us fell into infrastructure careers by accident but we wish we had these sort of events to show us what options were available in trades, apprenticeships, professional pathways, university and tertiary qualifications, plus on the job training. There is a large pipeline of infrastructure projects in Northland and New Zealand and once these young women have the skills they will be very employable.”
Mrs Boyd’s sentiments are echoed by Labour MP for Whangārei, Dr Emily Henderson.
It’s great to see these fantastic career pathways available in Whangārei,” says Dr Henderson. “Supporting women into trades does double duty – not only by employing women who are among those hit hardest by the economic impact of COVID, but also to help deliver much needed infrastructure.
With the Government Apprenticeship Boost programme the numbers of women apprentices doubled from July to November 2020 compared to 2019. It’s fantastic more women are entering these traditionally male-dominated industries because that will help recession-proof women in the future,” she adds.
Golden Bay Cement’s Process Engineering Manager Kelly Stevens says the company jumped at the chance to host the Girls in Infrastructure event.
We were excited show off our plant and talk to the girls about a possible career in Infrastructure. The room was buzzing with excitement from the school girls and the stall holders, it was such a cool event to be involved with.”