Learning on the job as a team builds understanding

Published 6 June 2023
When he first started his Facility Operations Apprenticeship at the Ākau Tangi Sports Centre in Wellington, Will Dewhirst was a programmes coordinator. Now the programmes team leader, he says working towards the qualification has been so valuable, he has his entire crew doing it.

Getting people engaged with sports and activities is at the heart of what Will and his team do at the Ākau Tangi Sports Centre.

“It’s facilitating, supervising, talking to the community, as well as coaching those basics of the sport so people feel comfortable to interact with others while playing something they enjoy,” he says.

Coming from a high-performance coaching background, Will shifted to a more community-focussed role when he joined the programmes team at the sports centre, where he found his passion for creating programmes for people to participate in sport and enjoy being active.

“For someone that's never experienced a sport before, I think that initial contact is quite important to their perception of it. So if you can have a good initial first contact, it can build someone's confidence. Their building of confidence can then lead to them taking on more things, which is awesome,” Will says.

“It's been really nice for me getting to know the different parts of the community as well. It's not just a sports centre. It's a community centre.”

Since 2021, Will has been doing a Facility Operations Apprenticeship (L4) through work-based learning provider, Te Mahi Ako.

“Doing this apprenticeship gives a fully-fledged understanding of what goes on behind the scenes within the sports centre,” he says.

“You get a better understanding of why you're actually doing certain things – the policies and the acts that are in place, New Zealand wide. What's been enjoyable about it is looking at the things we do daily and then using that knowledge.”

When Will became the programmes team leader last year, he could see the value in having other members of the team do the apprenticeship as well.

“I wanted to bring them on board to do the same thing, because I knew it'd be important for their development,” he says.

“The thing that I love is they're all passionate and hungry to learn. We want to be doing courses like this. We're not just building for the job we’re in. There's always opportunities for promotion, but that's built off not only your success in the job, but what you’re doing during the job to upskill.”

The team are all close now to completing the NZQA Level 4 qualification, which Will says they have been able to do at their own pace – a key benefit of learning on the job.

When their workload was heavier, they were able to put more focus on the job, whereas during quieter times, they could dedicate more time to the apprenticeship.

“That flexibility has been really helpful for us,” Will says.


Media contact: Michael Curreen | michael.curreen@skillsactive.org.nz | 021 1955 127

Te Mahi Ako is part of the Skills Active Aotearoa Group, and supports individuals to develop themselves through real-life learning within businesses, iwi and communities.  

Skills Active Aotearoa Group is a not-for-profit organisation, 50% owned by Māori shareholders, supporting capability development in te ahumahi ā-rēhia: the active recreation, leisure, entertainment and events sectors.