Clyde Dam opened its doors last week to host prospective employers as part of an initiative aiming to get more young women into the infrastructure sector.
The event was part of Girls with Hi-Vis, which gives girls a chance to gain hands-on experience and hear from women within the sector, organised by Connexis, the infrastructure branch of Te Pukenga — New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology.
About 15 pupils from Alexandra, Cromwell, Wanaka and Southland attended, taking part in tours of the dam and hearing from speakers from within the sector, as and saw hands-on activities such as operating a crane in the dam’s powerhouse.
James Hargest College pupil Samantha Lemm (14) said she enjoyed the experience and it had made her think more about engineering.
‘‘I think it’s something I never would have thought of for myself but I like how it is something really different from what I normally do,’’ Samantha said.
Fellow pupil Janet Wei (14) said it had helped pique her interest.
‘‘Engineering seems really interesting now,’’ Janet said.
Contact Energy electrical engineer Kelsey Costello spoke to the pupils about her experience joining and working in the industry.
Clyde Dam was not a workplace many people got to see, and the event was a good way for people to see another side of the industry, Ms Costello said.
Girls with Hi-Vis gave pupils an understanding of different ways people got involved with the industry.
‘‘I think it’s really helpful to hear other people’s stories because . . .you might not know what the pathway for an electrician looks like or what an apprenticeship programme might involve.’’
Her key messages to anyone looking to join the workforce were to ask questions and not to hold themselves back.
‘‘It might be scary — you might not know much about it. Don’t be afraid to put your hand up for an opportunity,’’ she said.
‘‘So long as you’re enthusiastic and interested to really give something a good go, people will give you the time of day and they really will make an effort to get you to where you want to be.’’
Contact Energy health and safety adviser Steph Philip said exposure to industries helped the pupils see infrastructure as a possible future career path.
‘‘It gives them a bit of insight as to the females that we already have in the industry and the different parts of the industry that they can get involved in.’’
Despite an increasing number of women entering the infrastructure workforce, it could still be daunting for a young women looking to join, she said.
‘‘It could be quite intimidating to come into an industry like this. . .so having them come in at an early age is important.’’
Girls with Hi-Vis had been held since 2016, when it started with three events hosting 50 pupils, Connexis executive director Kaarin Gaukrodger said.
Seven years on, about 800 pupils attend 37 events around the country.