By Kymberlee Fernandes, Manukau Courier

More women are studying to get into the trades, with a career as an electrician being a popular choice at one polytechnic.

Marama Amber de Rungs is the only girl in her class of electrical engineering, Level 4.
On the other hand, Sela Pohiva’s class has six boys and five girls studying electrical engineering, Level 3.

They are among many students who are training at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) under the Māori & Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT) scholarship. MPTT has had a total of 1,632 trainees in Auckland come through since 2014, of which 433 were female.

Sela Pohiva, 19, says it was a “last minute” career choice.

“Everyone talks about how we don’t have enough skilled tradespeople, and I want to change that.”

“I want to help around South Auckland,” the former Papakura High student says.

“There’s a lot of satisfaction in solving circuits and doing the wiring. I really like the mathematical side of it.”

When she tells people what she’s doing, she’s often responded with a “really?”.

“I don’t mind it. It pushes me more,” she says. “If you definitely want to do it, don’t let people’s opinion hold you back,” Pohiva advises other girls contemplating a career in the trades.

For Marama, 24, she was initially pretty serious about a career nursing, but, after a few setbacks and a gap year, she decided to get into electrical engineering.

Being the only girl in her class has made her even more ambitious, she says.

“You can see how it’s neutralised the class.”

She’s hoping to test the waters in the residential installation sector.

“A lot of residential employers that I’ve talked to say elderly people like women electricians. They’d rather wait a couple of months for a woman to be available than [have a] man to do the work,” she says.

Women studying electrical
Warren Mills, electrical trades lecturer at MIT is happy about the girls getting into the trade.

“It is giving us males a run for our money.”

He says the options in the electrical field are endless.

“You can get in to lighting, house wiring, industrial, mining, electronics, electric cars, solar power. Auckland is 13 per cent short of electricians in the industry.”

Lance Riesterer, general manager specialist trades and commercial at Skills, a multi-sector Industry Training Organisation (ITO) says women are “capable of excelling at all the skills needed to succeed” in the electrical trade.

“Two years after completing their apprenticeship, electricians can earn up to $54k per annum. For experienced electricians working in specialist fields, they can earn in excess of $100k per year,” Riesterer says.

MIT Electrical Trainees



* This article was originally published in the Manukau Courier and on stuff.co.nz