Official Release: Reform of Vocational Education - Announcement from the Minister of Education

The Minister of Education, Hon Chris Hipkins, has just announced the changes the Government will be making to the vocational education system in New Zealand. The changes being made will give industry the lead role in ensuring New Zealand's workforce is fit for today's workplace needs and tomorrow's expectations. The new system will give employers choice of provider once fully implemented.

Industries and employers across New Zealand have for some time been concerned about skill shortages, and the pipeline of well-trained and skilled people who are ready and able to start work and contribute to the growth and prosperity of local and national employers.

The current vocational training system has worked for some but not all employers. Through the recent consultation many employers saw the opportunity to improve the system and address the gaps that existed. Importantly employers have told us that they want a system that supports students to achieve a consistent standard of skills.

The Government has announced its first steps in creating a strong and sustainable system for vocational education and workplace training. It will also help improve the skills of all New Zealanders no matter where they are in their education or career. This will enable employers and industries to have the workforce they need, and for employees to have the opportunity to improve their ongoing employability. The new system is designed so that employers will have better access to a work-ready, skilled workforce across all regions.

Importantly the Government has announced that industry groups (called Workforce Development Councils, or WDCs), working on behalf of employers, will have more control over the whole skills pipeline. Industry will have greater influence on vocational education, including identifying skills needs, determining the mix of programmes funded and influencing funding decisions that reflect the industry needs of today and into the rapidly changing future.

The WDCs will also shape the new Vocational Entrance Award in NCEA and be well positioned to promote career opportunities in their industry. Industry will determine the graduate outcomes that apply in vocational qualifications and determine assessment standards.

We would like to thank you for agreeing to share the information regarding these important changes with your members. To help, we have provided a range of material that we hope will make it easy for you to share across your communications. Please click on any of the links below.

Minister's announcement, Detailed information on the changes and Frequently Asked Questions

Social media announcement

All these documents and further information can be accessed on the Reform of Vocational Education section of the Education Conversation | Kōrero Mātauranga website.

What do employers need to do?

For employers, encourage their people to enrol in training. The changes we're making are all about helping employers get a well-trained and work-ready workforce with the skills they need.

If they have a team member on an apprenticeship or undertaking training through an industry training organisation (ITO) or polytechnic then they will be able to continue training with little change.

If they are thinking of taking on an apprentice then carry on. The vocational education and training sector will continue to accept enrolments and continue to support apprentices.

As the new system rolls out, apprentices and their staff will be able to move more easily between provider-based, work-based and online learning and will be able to learn and train from anywhere, any time.

As part of a carefully managed transition, we will make sure employers are informed of any changes in arrangements for training. Training will continue to be built around their needs and support will continue to be provided to them and their staff to train in the workplace towards national qualifications and micro-credentials.

If you have any questions, concerns or need any help please email us at

What's next?

We'll continue to update you as further information is available.

If you would like employers in your membership to get updates directly, please provide them with this link to sign up for more information. We will then send them regular updates, information about the progression of the changes, and how they can get involved as things progress.


Grant Klinkum |Tumuaki Tuarua | Te Ara Kaimanawa
Deputy Secretary | Graduate Achievement, Vocations and Careers

Ministry of Education

Tim Fowler

Chief Executive

Tertiary Education Commission

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