Reform of Vocational Education, Use of Unit Standards, and Transitional Industry Training Organizations

Reform of Vocational Education 

The Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) aims to create a strong, unified sustainable vocational education system. It will be fit for the future of work and will deliver the skills that learners, employers and communities need to thrive. 

Schools will remain crucial to vocational education. The Ministry of Education wants to ensure that schools and tertiary education organisations are better linked to each other and to the world of work. 

Schools are encouraged to continue supporting students as they study vocational learning options including those undertaken through funding and programmes such as STAR, Gateway, and Trades Academies.

Transitional Industry Training Organisations

As you will be aware, Transitional Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) presently hold two core functions: arranging workplace training, and standard setting. 

Under RoVE, the arranging training functions of the Transitional ITOs are transferring to other providers such as Te Pūkenga, wānanga, and private training establishments. All Transitional ITOs must have transitioned their arranging training functions before the end of 2022.

So far this year, three Transitional ITOs have transitioned to new providers, and a fourth will transition on 4 October 2021.

Date Transitional ITO Receiving Provider What Transferred?
2 Aug Competenz Te Pūkenga Work Based Learning Ltd subsidiary Most staff, learners and arranging training functions
2 Aug Competenz PTE Skills4Work Retail meat apprenticeships
2 Aug NZ Marine & Composites ITO New PTE Marine and Specialized Technologies Academy of New Zealand Most staff, learners and arranging training functions
1 Sep Connexis Te Pūkenga Work Based Learning Ltd subsidiary Most staff, learners and arranging training functions
4 Oct BCITO Te Pūkenga Work Based Learning Ltd subsidiary Most staff, learners and arranging training functions

The remaining seven Transitional ITOs are continuing to develop their transition plans. 

Transitional ITOs will be in touch with their stakeholders as their transition plans are approved and implemented. Until then, schools should continue to connect with the Transitional ITOs and other vocational education providers as they normally would.

Further updates will be provided later in 2021.

Workforce Development Councils become operational on 4 October 

On 4 October 2021, the six new Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) which represent all industries in Aotearoa become operational. 
The role of the WDCs is to work with their industries to develop and maintain a strategic view of the skills their industries require, now and in the future. 

WDCs will set standards, develop qualifications and help shape the curriculum of vocational education. They will also take on responsibility for external moderation and endorsing consent to assess for unit standards within their coverage areas. 

Providers will develop a programme of study/learning to meet the requirements of each qualification.

Interim Factsheet for Schools
Functions transitioning to WDCs
Functions transitioning to WDCs

Transition of data and material to the WDCs

To allow the WDCs to assume their responsibilities, the Transitional ITOs and NZQA are transferring various data and materials to the WDCs, in line with legal advice to ensure they comply with privacy requirements. If you have any concerns, please discuss with your regular Transitional ITO and/or NZQA contacts.

Transfer of standard setting responsibilities

On 4 October 2021, the standard-setting functions and external moderation responsibilities of the Transitional ITOs officially transfer to the appropriate WDCs.  Please note that some of NZQA’s standard-setting and quality assurance functions also transfer to the WDCs.

What does this mean for schools?

In preparation for the transition, many of the Transitional ITO are no longer accepting samples for external moderation. This allows them time to complete all moderation submitted, prior to official handover to the WDCs.

Many Transitional ITOs have also stopped accepting applications for new consents to assess. The transition of these responsibilities will not impact on a school’s already existing approvals for consent to assess.

The new WDCs will communicate in due course about their external moderation processes, and other matters, including key contact details. 

Questions for WDCs?

Independent websites are being developed for each WDC, and these will go live on 4 October 2021. If you have any questions about WDCs or would like to contact a WDC before 4 October 2021, please email, or alternatively discuss with your regular Transitional ITO contacts.

Use of Unit Standards

In response to the Review of Achievement Standards, we have been receiving queries about the future of unit standards. Both unit standards and achievement standards will continue to count towards all levels of NCEA.

Over time, skill standards will replace unit standards as the core components of vocational programmes. NZQA will consult on the proposed structure of these standards once WDCs have been established. 

In the meantime, unit standards will continue to count towards the credit requirements for NCEA at all levels, and you can continue to include unit standards in your course planning as you usually would.  

Vocational Entrance Award

A new way to strengthen pathways into industry.

As part of the NCEA Change Programme, the Ministry is developing a Vocational Entrance Award (name provisional) to help strengthen pathways into a variety of industries.

This Award will signal that a learner has undertaken initial learning valued by industry, employers and tertiary education organisations (TEOs), and is ready to transition into higher level vocational education such as an apprenticeship.

We are engaging with a wide range of stakeholders on the high-level design of this Award, including schools and wharekura, tertiary providers, ITOs, employers and industry representatives, and young people. 

As part of the work to strengthen vocational pathways through NCEA, we are also reviewing the Level 2 Vocational Pathways Award and the Vocational Pathways system.

Further communications will be provided in late 2021.