World TVET Database - Country Profiles

New Zealand

TVET Country Profile
1. TVET mission
2. System
3. Governance and financing
4. TVET teachers and trainers
5. Qualifications
6. Projects
7. Statistical information
8. Links
9. References
New Zealand
published: 2012-11-10

1. TVET mission, legislation and national policy or strategy

TVET strategy

The Skills Strategy (2008) aims to integrate workplace needs into formal education and training.

The Strategy sets out 5 goals which aim to create a competitive workforce in New Zealand.

  • Goal 1 Improve the use and retention of skills to transform work and workplaces;
  • Goal 2 Increase employer and worker awareness of their skills needs;
  • Goal 3 Influence the supply of skills through a more responsive education and training system;
  • Goal 4 Develop a unified approach to defining, valuing and measuring skills; and
  • Goal 5 Make the most of the available workforce by supporting everyone to work, through skills development and supportive workplace practices.
To achieve these goals, the Strategy concentrates on four areas.

  • “Improve management and leadership capability in organisations to better develop and use skills.”
For that purpose, partnerships between firms and tertiary education providers; and public – private partnerships should be established.

  • “Increase the literacy, language and numeracy skills of the workforce” - A larger number of literacy and numeracy programmes relevant to the labour market should be offered, and awareness raising on advantages of literacy and numeracy should be undertaken.
  • “Create a better match between workers’ skills and industry and regional needs" - Access to career advice services and labour market information should be increased and information on skill needs should be elaborated according to regions. The qualifications system should be reviewed.
  • “Support young people currently in the workforce to increase their skills and engage in relevant training ” - Advice services for employers and training providers on how to support young workers should be offered. Further, labour market information and career advice should be improved for young job seekers.
The Tertiary Education Strategy (2010-2015) sets out to create a world-leading education system. One of its priorities is to “raise the skills and knowledge of the current and future workforce to meet the labour market demands and social needs.” The Strategy recognises that skills are crucial for securing long-term productivity and future growth.

TVET legislation

  • The Education Act (1989) and its subsequent Education Amendment Act No. 3 (2010) form the main legislative framework for the education system. The Education Act (1989) established the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and the Teachers Registration Board.
  • Industry training was initiated with the passing of the Industry Training Act (1992) which stipulates the establishment of Industry Training Organisations (ITOs). ITOs are charged with managing training in their industry. The Industry Training Amendment Act (2002) was endorsed to improve the quality of the industry training system.

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    2. TVET formal, non-formal and informal systems

Scheme compiled by UNESCO-UNEVOC from UNESCO-IBE (2011). World Data on Education VII Ed. 2010/11. New Zealand. Geneva: UNESCO-IBE.

Formal TVET system

Primary education starts at the age of five and lasts until the sixth year of schooling. At secondary level students may specialise in technical and vocational subjects or choose complementary TVET (including bridging arrangements with tertiary providers) as part of general secondary education.

Tertiary education is generally understood as including all types of post-secondary education. The boundaries among institutions and other providers of post-school education and training are not rigidly imposed in New Zealand so TVET can be found in schools and in universities. Students can choose to continue with technical and vocational education and training (TVET); continuing or higher education in a range of learning environments.

At tertiary level, the following providers offer TVET training:

  • Private training establishments;
  • Government training establishments;
  • Wānanga (tertiary institutions providing education in Māori cultural context);
  • Industry training organisations;
  • Course owners;
  • Institutes of technology and polytechnics; and
  • Adult education providers.
There are also TVET courses available in a number of universities.

Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) provide a range of TVET programmes ranging from introductory to full degree courses. They focus on practical knowledge and its application to work-related environments. There are 20 ITPs in New Zealand.

Main characteristics of ITP education are listed below and include:

  • Practical teaching takes place in studios, workshops, laboratories, hospitals and other workplaces;
  • Professional and applied degrees are based on applied research;
  • Certificate and diploma programmes are industry-related;
  • Many programmes include compulsory work experience such as internships, cooperative leaning and On-the-Job Training (OJT);
  • ITP offer a range of academic and professional programmes with a range of qualifications;
  • ITP encourage students to build up from lower to higher qualifications;
  • ITP offer distance learning and accessibility for students living outside cities; and
  • ITP graduates receive nationally and internationally recognised qualifications.
Non-formal and informal TVET systems

Private Training Establishments (PTE) provide TVET at tertiary level. They specialise in niche occupations such as tourism, design, ICTs and English language learning and offer graduates diplomas and certificates.

TVET training is also provided by Industry Training Organisations (ITO). ITOs are government-funded bodies representing their respective industries. They develop industry skill standards and qualifications; and provide on-the-job training and contract training providers to offer off-the-job training courses.

Informal TVET is part of what is termed prior learning. Prior learning is given consideration on the basis of on-job experience, previous proven achievements outside formal learning or assessment tasks. Assessment tasks are evaluated by accredited providers and registered workplace assessors on the basis of standards in mainstream education and training programmes. Training providers can also award credit for existing qualifications if they are certain that unit standard requirements were met.

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3. Governance and financing


The Ministry of Education is the main public body in charge education in New Zealand. It plays a central role in administering education property; developing guidelines and curricula statements; paying salaries and providing funding at the primary and secondary level.

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is the government agency responsible for managing the tertiary education sector. This encompasses all forms of post-school education and training. Tertiary education institutions are responsible for administering their own capital works, paying salaries and developing their own qualifications.

Under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is in charge of developing and maintaining a comprehensive, accessible and flexible New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). It also serves as a register for the qualifications of all post-schooling institutions (except universities), provides quality assurance and promotes recognition internationally of New Zealand qualifications.

The Education Review Office is in charge of reporting on educational institutions at the primary and secondary level and thus provides information on education quality of New Zealand schools to all relevant stakeholders.

Careers New Zealand is a service available to all New Zealanders seeking advice on career paths and related education requirements. It cooperates with industry, business, trade unions, government agencies and educational institutions.

In TVET, industry training is coordinated by the Industry Training Organisations (ITOs). ITOs represent their respective industries and other relevant stakeholders that make up the industry training system. The system started evolving from the vocational training and apprenticeship system in 1992. The Industry Training Federation is an umbrella organisation representing 33 ITOs to government agencies and sector groups.

The three main functions of the ITOs are (1) to provide information on industry skill demand, (2) define national skill standards required by industry, (3) and broker training to meet the needs of employees in industry. Industry training is offered both in traditional trades and new areas such as services and retail.

List of accredited ITOs:


Funding is primarily from government through TEC, with contributions from industry and in most cases, from student fees.

Literacy and numeracy skills were identified as one of the priorities in the Tertiary Education Strategy 2007 -12. Therefore, an investment ($168 million over four years) into improving literacy and numeracy – including programmes for numeracy and literacy skills in the workforce - is outlined in the Budget 2008.

The table below shows funding for building demand, supply and capacity:

Source: Skills Strategy, 2008.

The Tertiary Education Commission is the main public body in charge of implementing the work. Other agencies include employees, unions, Industry Training Organisations (ITO), Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics and other tertiary education providers.

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4. TVET teachers and trainers

Universities are the traditional teacher education providers at the primary and secondary level (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Waikato, Massey). However, teacher training is also available at polytechnics, institutes of technology and private institutions. Teacher qualifications are a three-year bachelors of education for primary school teachers. Secondary school teachers first take a degree in their field of specialist study or four-year conjoint degrees and then a one-year graduate diploma of teaching.

TVET teachers in ITPS normally have their base qualifications and some years of experience in industry. A teaching qualification is not mandatory but most would take at least a Certificate of Adult Teaching (CAT). These are available through almost all of the ITPs and are often done as an in-service programme. Teachers can also upgrade their teaching qualification to a Diploma in Adult Teaching.

The quality assurance process of teaching qualifications is managed through the Committee for University Academic Programmes (CUAP) for qualifications from universities and through NZQA for qualifications from ITPs. The New Zealand Teachers Council (NZTC) recognises teaching qualifications and accredits teachers. All teachers in early childhood education, primary and secondary education must be registered with the organisation and hold a practicing certificate. Tertiary teachers do not have to be registered with this body, although many will be.

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5. Qualifications and qualifications frameworks

National Qualifications Framework (NQF)

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is the main body in charge of ensuring that qualifications meet national and international standards. The organisation is in charge of managing the New Zealand Qualifications Framework, administering the secondary school system, providing quality assurance of non-university providers and ensuring quality standards and standard setting for qualifications. Specific information on qualifications can be found in the qualifications database

Universities New Zealand is the body responsible for the quality of university programmes. The Committee for University Academic Programmes (CUAP) sets up and applies qualification and regulation approval, accreditation and programme moderation procedures across all of the universities in New Zealand. New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit (NZAAU - an independent body established by Universities NZ) conducts regular institutional audits to promote quality enhancement practices across the sector.

The Credit Recognition and Transfer Policy is a framework whereby learners can receive credit for an existing qualification when applying for a new course of study. Credit transfer occurs on case-to-case basis or as an agreement between training providers.

Quality assurance

There is no separate vocational training system in New Zealand. TVET falls therefore under the national quality assurance system that applies across the whole tertiary system. The New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) is in charge of ensuring quality for all tertiary education institutions other than universities. The quality assurance system comprises of four components – quality assurance of courses, accreditation of institutions, quality audits, and moderation of assessment against standards specified for qualifications registered on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

NZQA is also responsible for accrediting private training institutions and course providers. Private training providers need to be registered if they wish to receive government funding or enrol international students.

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6. Current and ongoing reforms, projects, and challenges

Current reforms and major projects

Current developments include a Government review of the industry training system. The Industry Training Review is made up of a discussion document, an online employer survey and in-depth interviews with employers across a range of industries. Results of the review are expected in 2012.

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7. Statistical information(*)

Population (Million)



Average yearly population growth rate 2005 - 2010

+1.13 %

For comparison:
Global average yearly population growth rate 2005-2010: 1.17%
2.02 2.03
female male  
2.22 2.15
female male  

49.93 %

50.89 %

Table compiled by UNESCO-UNEVOC based on UN ESA: World Population Prospects/ the 2010 revision

GDP per capita (currency: US$)



27 354

29 352

Table compiled by UNESCO-UNEVOC based on ILO: Key Indicators of the Labour Market

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8. Links to UNEVOC centres and TVET institutions

UNEVOC Centres

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9. References, bibliography, abbreviations


Further reading


  • ITO - Industry Training Organisation
  • ITP - Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics
  • NZQA - New Zealand Qualifications Authority
  • NZQF - New Zealand Qualifications Framework
  • NZTC - New Zealand Teachers Council
  • OJT - On-Job Training
  • PTE - Private Training Establishments

    Published by: UNESCO-UNEVOC
    Publication Date: 2012-11-10
    Validated by: Ms Brenda M Lazelle;
    Interim Chief Executive;
    Polytechnics International New Zealand Limited (PINZ)

page date 2017-05-05

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