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Women’s Minister Paula Bennett and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell are congratulating the Royal New Zealand Air Force for an initiative aimed at attracting more young women into the Air Force.

The School to Skies programme highlights the range of technical and aviation careers available in the Air Force to years 12 and 13 girls with an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths.

The first four-day camp was held last week with 24 students at RNZAF Base Auckland at Whenuapai, and it attracted so much interest that a second camp began today. Mr Mitchell visited the initial camp while at the base last week.

“New Zealand needs more women in the Air Force and the aviation industry in general. These students are able to experience life on an Air Force base, plan a flight mission and get hands-on experience fixing a real aircraft,” Mrs Bennett says.

“The camp fits in with the Defence Force’s vison of attracting more women into the military by helping them to understand the organisation’s values and breaking down any barriers that may prevent women from opting for a Defence Force career,” Mrs Bennett says.

“At least half the camp is dedicated to science, technology, engineering and maths, allowing the students to translate key education subjects into real-life careers,” Mr Mitchell says.

“The Air Force wants to make this an annual initiative, and the format of the course is such that the Navy and Army could use it to run courses tailored to their own specialist needs.

“I congratulate the Air Force on a world-leading initiative that could be of benefit to the whole NZDF.

“Its success has not only been shown by the interest it has attracted but also by providing these young women with a real understanding of the Air Force and the wider Defence Force,” Mr Mitchell says.

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