Around 40 women of all ages learned about the construction, infrastructure and engineering professions at a special event held at NorthTec’s Future Trades centre on Monday (2 November).
The evening event featured female speakers who have succeeded in the industries and are keen to encourage other women to get involved.
Whangārei district Mayor, Sheryl Mai, opened the event, with WDC Councillor, Tricia Cutforth, also in attendance. Kylie Taffard, Chair of New Zealand-wide group women in Trades (WiT), came along to offer her support.
The visitors also toured the Future Trades centre and took the opportunity to chat with tutors about the courses on offer.
The speakers were Aidan Bryers – Project Manager, Canam Group; Fiona Bycroft – Northland Regional Manager, McKay Ltd; Arden Hermans – Site Engineer, Fulton Hogan; and Dharia Ward – Health & Safety Manager, Earthworx Rural & Civil Ltd. Both Arden and Dharia are NorthTec graduates, while Fiona and Arden represented the Northland Women’s Infrastructure Network, in partnership with Infrastructure NZ.
Aiden Bryers told the group about her pathway into her project management career, from loving Lego as a child, to full-time study, to taking a job as a hammerhand after graduation in order to understand how construction theory applied in the real world.
Aiden urged her audience to consider a career in construction and infrastructure, with plenty of jobs available and government investment currently taking place. She was keen to see an increase in the number of females working in the field, for a variety of reasons, concluding with: “Because you can! Any job a man can do – you can too.”
Fiona Bycroft spoke about what employers are looking for from potential candidates, and what practical steps women can take to increase their chances of getting a role in a male-dominated industry. She encouraged the group to “know what you want to do” and be excited about getting a job; be realistic; “understand why they should hire you”; network, and finally, “don’t give up!”
Fiona told the women: “If you don’t know what you want to do, get out there and find out what the options are. Don’t be bound by what comes to you. We have found that girls at school are typically steered towards the more typically female roles, and roles in male-dominated industries may not be promoted. So, you may need to do some research yourself. A great place to start is by talking to people that are in a role you want to do – there are a number of organisations that focus on supporting women in and into industry.”
Sam Kelly, NorthTec Acting Associate Director, Products and Delivery, said: “We organised this event knowing that this year, women have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. Government spending aimed at economic recovery has been allocated to training in apprenticeships, construction and infrastructure development, and women are not always aware of the great careers to be had in this area.
“We wanted to demonstrate that talented local women are succeeding and enjoying working in this sector, so it was great to see a good turnout of women interested in our training programmes. We plan to run a similar event in 2021, to encourage more women into tertiary training in these industries.”
NorthTec offers a wide range of programmes based around the engineering, construction and trades industries – with several being available fees-free in 2021. These include Level 6 diplomas in civil engineering and architectural technology, along with courses in mechanical, automotive and electrical engineering. There are also several programmes to choose from covering construction, carpentry, trades painting and workplace health and safety.
NorthTec will have a total of 27 fees-free programmes in industry available in 2021.