Skills Active Apprentice of the Year competition: Helping a healthy community

September 8, 2020

Nicole Shand has spent her career creating a wide range of sport and recreation programmes for all sorts of people in the community. The common factor in all her work has been her desire to see people reap the benefits of finding physical activity that they enjoy.

Nicole is one of three finalists for the 2020 Skills Active Apprentice of the Year. Each year, this award goes to a high-potential apprentice with commitment, passion and diligence, who has the skills and qualifications to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders, through the medium of sport, recreation or the performing arts.

For the past 10 years, Nicole has been raising a family in Nelson and working for Sport Tasman. Supported by her employer, she has completed the New Zealand Apprenticeship in Recreation and Sport (Coach/Instructor). She is also a Skills Active assessor and a mum of four.

“My role has involved working with children, postnatal women and the elderly across a range of programmes and events,” says Nicole.

“I was responsible for developing these programmes, running them and looking for new ways to improve and develop exercise in our community. A major project was acquiring funding and designing a gym that we set up within the Saxton Stadium, for personal training, strength and conditioning, and youth access.”

Nicole has a strong belief in the power of exercise to benefit the whole person; body, mind and soul. This is true for everyone, but especially the new mums that she has worked with over the years.

“I feel there is a massive gap when it comes to supporting postnatal women, whether mentally or physically. When we have a baby our world turns to them, but our own body and state of mind get left as an afterthought. My goal is to be able to train more fitness professionals in supporting postnatal women getting back into physical activity.

“My family and I have always enjoyed being active together, and I know how good that makes us feel,” she adds.

“I know how hard it can be for people to find physical activity that they enjoy or a place where they don’t feel pressure or insecurities, so this is the type of environment I have tried to create within Sport Tasman.”

Nicole says she studied sport and exercise science at the beginning of her career, but decided to embark on the Skills Active apprenticeship as a way of maintaining her skill currency.

“The apprenticeship allowed me go back to basics and review all of my sessions and their structure. It helped me to revisit how we set up and deliver sessions and events so that people get the most out of them, with safety and planning as a major focus.

“It was a way for me to upskill, develop new skills, and obtain a qualification reflect the current skills I was using on a day-to-day basis. I feel like there is always something new to learn, and doing so can only benefit the industry and community.”

About the Apprentice of the Year competition

The Skills Active Apprentice of the Year will be announced later this year. Check out first finalist Lewis Young, and watch this space to find out more about our last finalist!


Media contact for Skills Active

Esther McLaren

021 195 5127

About Skills Active

Skills Active Aotearoa is the transitional industry training organisation for recreation, exercise, sport and performing arts. We are a non-profit organisation, 50% owned by Māori shareholders, and funded by government to promote careers and workforce development in our industries, work with those industries to create world-class qualifications, and support workplaces to train staff.