Skills Active passes on a taonga as it hands over standard-setting responsibilities

October 4, 2021

Skills Active today ceases to be the standard-setting body for sport, recreation and performing arts, and hands over this function to the newly established workforce development council, Toi Mai.

Like its fellow transitional industry training organisations, Skills Active is relinquishing this role as part of the reform of vocational education that was first announced in early 2019.

“For 26 years we have been working jointly with our industries to create qualifications that are completed on the job, allowing people to earn while they learn, and gain skills and standards that have been designed specifically to meet industry needs,” says Skills Active chair Sam Napia.

“We’ve also provided leadership and quality assurance on these skills and standards, including moderation, programme endorsement and consent to assess, as well as general workforce development advocacy for our industries,” Mr Napia adds.

While Skills Active will continue to support the delivery of qualifications in the workplace, and build resources to complement delivery, it will no longer be the lead on setting those standards and qualifications, he notes.

“We have come on a long journey, and today we’re reflecting on that journey as we gift the precious taonga that we’ve carried to its new owners in the post-reform world."

A little bit of history

Mr Napia notes that in 1996 there were 52 ITOs; this decreased to 38 by 2012, and was further rationalised down to the 11 that existed up until the reform of vocational education.

“Throughout the numerous reviews, mergers and amalgamations we have stood strong in demonstrating that our industries matter, what they do matters, and that what we do to enable them to support their current and future workforce must be preserved,” Mr Napia says.

“Over the past 26 years, firstly as SFRITO and then as Skills Active, we have introduced and grown industry training in our sectors. We have witnessed the ongoing professionalisation of their workforces, with the support and dedication of our industry and iwi partners who have been on the journey since day one,” he says.

“And we have strived to ensure the vision of workforce success is realised for Māori specifically. The cooperation between our Māori and non- Māori shareholders, staff and board has been a model for the tertiary sector.

“It has led to a strategy of building strong relationships with iwi, hapū and Māori, engaging meaningfully to develop qualifications and resources that meet the needs of Māori ākonga, and adopting a bicultural kaupapa in our work and our organisational culture,” Mr Napia says.

What next?

“Our next challenge will be unlike those we have experienced before. This time we are not surviving mergers or amalgamations but are reinventing ourselves into a new organisation, one that, with the support of shareholders and partners, will continue to serve our industries, employers and learners,” says Mr Napia.

“As we continue with developing our plan to transition to a private training establishment, we’re looking to a future where every person and organisation in our sectors can unlock their potential and gain the skills and knowledge they need – and we can continue to play a supporting role,” he adds.

“Toi Mai takes over the important responsibility for setting qualifications and skills standards, and facilitating the work involved, in partnership with the creative, cultural, recreation and technology industries. 

“And I would note that as we pass on that function, we are also saying goodbye to three highly-valued staff members who will join Toi Mai, bringing valuable expertise and sector memory as the new organisation gets up and running and the work begins,” Mr Napia says.

"So we put forward the challenge to Toi Mai to receive this work, and these people, with a full understanding of the significance of the transition. We will look to Toi Mai to ensure the continued advocacy of our recreation, sport and performing arts sectors, and the fulfilment of their workforce needs and aspirations.”


Media contact for Skills Active: Esther McLaren | | 021 195 5127

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 support Aotearoa businesses, organisations, iwi and community enterprises to get their staff and volunteers trained up and qualified.