Meet Bill Huppler: The world’s first Recreation and Sport Leader Apprentice

November 17, 2017

Someone who demonstrates how on-job training can positively impact career progression: the current manager at Takapuna Pool and Leisure Centre certainly fits the bill.

Beginning as a recreation assistant, throughout his Recreation and Sport Leader Apprenticeship Bill Huppler gained new skills and experience and is now enjoying his management position in Auckland.

Bill is the first person to ever complete this particular apprenticeship. Finding the experience "really beneficial”, he is now "offering wisdom and guidance" to his staff as they work towards gaining the apprenticeship and other qualifications through on-job training.

Passionate about learning and development, Bill holds qualifications in Aquatics (Pool Lifeguard and Swim Education), Cycle Skills Instruction, Recreation and Sport (Level 3 and 4), and Business (First-Line Management). With this broad scope and experience, he has recently completed training to become a Skills Active Assessor. This will enable him to further support his colleagues as they upskill.

"I think putting staff through on-job qualifications is helping people achieve their goals and stay passionate about their jobs. It is reinforcing to people, especially in our industry, that they are the most important asset we have and they are worthy of being invested in," Bill says.

He first found out about the apprenticeship on a noticeboard at Birkenhead Pool and Leisure Centre, which is where he was working as a recreation assistant. After finding out more information from Skills Active learning support advisor Toni Clough, Bill says he "leaped at the chance" to do the apprenticeship.

There were many components to the apprenticeship:

The Sport and Recreation (Level 3) module was completed through a recognition of prior learning conversation.

First Line Management involved creating and implementing practices of work and processes to create a positive workplace culture.

And then there was Sport and Recreation (Level 4), which involved a variety of projects.

One focus was planning and delivering a recreation programme, for which Bill chose to deliver a school holiday programme. Another component involved planning and delivering a recreation event. Bill ran a week-long school camp for approximately 220 kids at Piha Beach. The final focus area was about team leadership, for which Bill led a team that ran a 10-week programme for a group of special needs kids.

"I had quite a lot of experience in this area, so a lot of the leading teams stuff was more about educating my team about the best way to deal with issues that might come up, and the best way to develop teaching points" Bill says.

Bill says the experience of delivering and writing about these programmes and events helped to formalise his knowledge.

"When thinking about demonstrating what I learnt, I realised a lot of the stuff we had done before was quite informal. A lot of knowledge was stored in peoples’ heads rather than on paper, which I realised is not the best way to go about doing things... I use a lot of the stuff I learnt then when I am thinking about projects today," Bill says.

He says the apprenticeship has made him more organised and structured in terms of his approach to solving problems and planning things.

Enthusiastic about adult education and training, Bill says he is most excited about the opportunity to further support his colleagues and others, as he becomes an assessor.

"The return on investment for training is huge. Even if the training doesn’t have the return on investment directly, if it means someone is going to stick around because they see they are valued then there is still value in that."