Local woman Shirlene Spencer has won the national Skills Active Aotearoa Apprentice of the Year Award. Photo: Brittany Spencer.

Local woman wins apprentice of the year

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Local woman Shirlene Spencer has been named the Skills Active Aotearoa 2016 Apprentice of the Year.

Shirlene completed her Recreation and Sport Aquatics Leader (Swim Education) in 2015 while she was employed at the Richmond Aquatic Centre.

Now working as camp administrator at Teapot Valley Christian Camp, Shirlene says she was completely surprised when she got the call.

“I never thought I would win so when I did it was so exciting, it’s still completely amazing and such a privilege.”

Shirlene and her husband Stephen will travel to Queenstown later this month to attend the New Zealand Recreation Association prizegiving dinner, where she will receive her trophy and $1,000 cheque.

After dropping out of high school Shirlene says she had assumed that further education wasn’t for her. But when her employer offered her the chance to embark on an apprenticeship, they gave her the confidence to rise to the challenge.

“You always feel like the dumb one who left school at 15 when other people go on and get degrees and things but I think this has made me realise that learning and qualifications are more about that desire to learn and continuing to carry on learning throughout your lifetime not just having one piece of paper.

“It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past, you’re still capable to carry on learning.”

Now Shirlene is looking at further study options to pursue her interest in business and management and grow her career in the field she loves.

“Fundamentally, I just like being able to help people, and I see sport and recreation as a great way to do that. You do see how sedentary some kids can be, so it’s exciting when you see kids exploring new things…seeing them stretch outside their comfort zone.”

Skills Active chief executive Dr Grant Davidson said it was inspiring that the award went to someone who gained a qualification later in life.

“Shirlene is a proud representative of the sport and recreation industry and we’re incredibly proud to be represented by her, as our Apprentice of the Year for 2016.”

Skills Active is the industry training organisation for sport and recreation in New Zealand, and the Apprentice Award recognises high-potential individuals gaining skills and qualifications that will help them improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders, through sport and recreation.