Our infrastructure industry will need 40,000 new geologists, engineers and technicians and other workers over the next five years to support New Zealand's growth and an ageing workforce.

To tackle this problem industry training body Connexis runs an annual event called Girls With Hi-Vis to encourage young women to choose a career in the industry.

On Wednesday seven students from Morrinsville College, Cambridge High and Hamilton Girls' High attended an event at Mercury in Hamilton to hear from senior infrastructure leaders in the company and visit Mercury's hydro station at Karāpiro.

Connexis partners with companies for the two-month event to showcase the varied roles and opportunities available to women in the industry.


Mercury reservoir engineer Jamie Potter told students how important renewable energy is to the future of the energy sector, the environment and how energy inspires her because "it allows you to do the things you love".

Originally from Oklahoma, where Jamie said energy generation is heavily reliant on burning fossil fuels, moving to Rotorua has given her the opportunity to work on renewable, clean energy.

"You hear the word engineer, but it's way more impactful to meet a person in real life and for students to see 'ah they're actually like me' and then they can visualise themselves in my shoes."

Mercury reliability engineer Kate Williamson said Girls With Hi-Vis gives students the opportunity to see what's possible. "It's an awesome opportunity for them to see what's out there and what ladies are doing. Hopefully they'll see that they could do this too."