Opening Career Doors for Young Women in the Infrastructure Industry

benstevens Civil Trades, Energy, Telco, Ultimit / Women in Infrastructure, Water

Infrastructure forms the backbone of New Zealand’s day to day livelihood and is a booming sector that is predicted to require around 44,000 more people over the next 5 years.

Connexis – the Industry Training Organisation (ITO) for Infrastructure – is addressing the recruitment challenge throughout May and June targeting young women with its annual Girls with Hi-Vis (GWHV) campaign.

Connexis Chief Executive Toby Beaglehole says, “Rewarding trade and technical careers for women are there for the taking within the infrastructure sector. The challenge is our young people don’t always know about them, which is what Girls with Hi-Vis is all about.”

The nationwide programme sees companies in the Civil, Energy, Telecommunication and Water industries open their doors for a day, specifically to women who are interested in knowing more about what they do and the career opportunities available. Due to the success of GWHV the campaign will run for two months this year instead of its usual one.

“Women only account for about 6% of employees in the Infrastructure Industries in general -that means women are heavily under represented and a huge potential employment pool,” Toby says.

GWHV is a unique opportunity for young women to find out about job options they had never previously considered or didn’t realise were available. Success stories from last year’s GWHV events include Meridian taking on an apprentice and two work experience placements and PowerNet in Invercargill employing an electrical apprentice. Employers also enjoyed a heightened community profile, including with local schools.

Holly’s new prospective career path all began with a visit to Meridian via last year’s Girls with Hi-Vis event in Twizel.

“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.

“There’s just such a massive range of things to work on from week to week. I really like the hands-on parts of the job, but there’s such a variety.”

Holly says girls who are looking to work in areas like mechanical engineering have to really seek out information on what is available, rather than waiting for it to come to them. The GWHV really helps with opening your eyes to possibilities girls might not know are out there, she says.

“Girls with Hi-Vis offers young women of all ages and backgrounds, 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 see where they might have a future,” Toby says.

All the companies Connexis is 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 considerable,” Toby says.

GWHV open days are being held throughout the country – Auckland, Canterbury, Waikato, Warkworth, Hawkes Bay, Taupo, Invercargill, Hastings and Waipa.

For a full list of Girls with Hi-Vis events, inspirational work stories and open day information visit