Girls With Hi-Vis 2024 Wrap-Up

Kirste Floyd News

Hundreds of female secondary school students around the country have had their hands on the controls of some of New Zealand’s top infrastructure companies over the past two months through Connexis Girls with Hi-Vis® (GWHV).

Since May, civil contracting, energy, and water companies from Northland to Southland have hosted GWHV events to encourage more young women to take up careers in infrastructure trades by giving them hands-on experience of some of the skills required.

The students have donned hi-vis vests and done it all from driving diggers and trucks, to climbing power poles and jointing cables. They’ve also seen the inner workings of some of New Zealand’s biggest infrastructure assets like wind farms, hydro power stations, water treatment plants and major roading projects.

One attendee, Kyra Baylon, a year 12 student from Auckland’s Tangaroa College sums up the benefits of Girls with Hi-Vis for students weighing up career choices: “Seeing this opportunity for someone like me to explore this kind of path was really cool. I’ve been really confused about what I wanted to do in the future and this has honestly really set me on what I want to do now.”

Feilding High School careers advisor Greg Pryce says GWHV offers an exceptional chance for students to gain practical understanding of infrastructure trades, and hear directly from other women already working in them about their experiences and the opportunities.

“Our young women finished the day with a deeper appreciation of what is possible and now consider infrastructure a viable career pathway,” he says.

Pryce says he expects several of the Feilding High students who attended their GWHV with Fulton Hogan in Palmerston North to sign up for Connexis Gateway programmes, a stepping stone that allows high school students to work toward trade qualifications while still at school.

Girls with Hi-Vis has been running annually since 2015, attracting more and more interest from both employers and schools each year.

Connexis Executive Director Kaarin Gaukrodger says the growing interest is an indication of the huge potential for employers lying in the next generation of young women, who are having their eyes opened to different career paths than may have traditionally been presented to them.

“These trades present an opportunity for those leaving school to earn while they become qualified for a career in an industry where skilled workers are desperately needed. That means job security without the need for large student loans.”

Gaukrodger says Connexis works closely with companies in its infrastructure industries to ensure that students are stepping into an apprenticeship and training pathway and gaining skills in high demand by employers.

“Girls with Hi-Vis also provides opportunities for students to build relationships directly with infrastructure employers in their local area, and for those local businesses to connect with their next generation of workers. But perhaps most importantly, Girls with Hi-Vis opens students’ minds to the possibility of a career in infrastructure, to be involved in large-scale projects, working on major infrastructure assets, operating big machinery, and developing technical solutions.

“It provides those young women the opportunity to be part of building new infrastructure and future proofing current infrastructure through the vital day-to-day maintenance and repairs that directly benefits their whānau and local community and most importantly, keeping all New Zealanders connected, healthy and moving.”