Infrastructure training prepares women for growing industry

(L-R) Principal Advisor Rehabilitation and Learning Gary Lepper and Solomon Group Senior Tutor Gail Hosken with infrastructure training participants in the classroom. Construction, infrastructure development, and engineering are no longer job prospects just for the boys!

Increasingly, media reports and industry organisations highlight the ongoing growth in these sectors, as well as accompanying challenges, including the need for more skilled employees (especially women) to ensure an inclusive and diverse labour force.

“At Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility (ARWCF), we’ve paid attention to these trends, and in collaboration with the Solomon Group, we’ve been training women to take up infrastructure jobs on release from prison,” says Principal Advisor Rehabilitation and Learning Gary Lepper.

“In fact, since the Solomon Group’s training programme in Infrastructure Works Level 2 started at the prison about 12 months ago, a total of 26 women have graduated. One graduate, who  was released in November 2017, is now employed with a roading and infrastructure company.”

ARWCF has a specialist team supporting the women over a 12-month period as they are released and placing them into employment.

Job opportunities include anything from general labourer to traffic management at road works to machine operators, and more specialised roles.

(L-R) Corrections Officer Velaidan Nair, Solomon Group Senior Tutor Gail Hosken, and ARWCF’s most recent infrastructure training graduates.Solomon Group Senior Tutor Gail Hosken delivers the infrastructure works course at the prison.  She says when Solomon Group developed the course, they asked industry employers what they were looking for in entry level women employees.

“Across the board, industry employers indicated they needed employees with a Site Safe certificate in accordance with health and safety legislation, NZQA-accredited training in traffic management level one through the New Zealand Transport Agency, and training and practical experience in compaction.”

The curriculum includes maths, literacy, financial skills, CV writing, personal and professional goal setting, and general life skills covering reintegration into the community.

The course takes 14 weeks to complete and involves classroom work and self-directed learning.

How do the women feel about entering employment traditionally dominated by men?

“I think it’s cool that a lot more women are getting involved. We can hold our own, and I believe women are less of a liability; they work far more safely than men,” says *Anna.

Another graduate, *Lucy, adds: “I prefer a more hands-on job, and when I get out of prison, I want to get involved in housing. I want to take down old structures, so new housing can be rebuilt.”

*Not their real names.