Reform of Vocational Education, Use of Unit Standards, Workforce Development Councils 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. This new system will be fit for the future of work and will deliver the skills that learners, employers and communities need to thrive. 

Schools 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 the Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR), Gateway, and Trades Academies.

Transitional Industry Training Organisations

As you will be aware, Transitional Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) have been holding 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.

Completed Transitions

As of 4 October 2021, the following Transitional ITOs have transitioned to new providers.

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 (MAST Academy) 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

Please note that the TITOs’ contact details have not changed for schools wanting to access resources and materials for Gateway and other standards and programmes used in schools – all except NZMAC which has transitioned to MAST Academy

Upcoming Transitions

Date Transitional ITO Receiving Provider What Transferred?
1 Jan 2022 MITO Te Pūkenga Work Based Learning Ltd subsidiary Most staff, learners and arranging training functions
1 Jan 2022 MITO Marine and Specialized Technologies Academy of New Zealand (MAST Academy) Small group of industrial textile fabrication learners
1 July 2022 ServiceIQ  Te Pūkenga Work Based Learning Ltd subsidary All staff, learners and arranging training functions

The remaining five Transitional ITOs are continuing to develop their transition plans. The Tertiary Education Commission will communicate confirmed transition arrangements once they are approved by the TEC Board of Commissioners. The transition planning process should be wrapped up by around mid-2022.

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.

Workforce Development Councils 

As of 4 October 2021, the six new Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) which represent all industries in Aotearoa became operational. Ohu Mahi provides a guide to which WDC covers which industries and provides links to the six WDCs. 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 are responsible for developing and maintaining industry qualifications and unit standards. These qualifications and standards are currently being managed by a mixture of the WDCs, TITOs and NZQA. They have been updated on NZQA’s system and you will be able to find out which ones have been transferred to each WDC by searching NZQA’s website:

  • For standards, search for the unit standard by number (or via field/subfield/domain) on the Directory of Assessment Standards. The name of the WDC that is the new standard-setting body will be displayed on the resulting screen. Note: the documents relating to the standard will still show the previous standard setting body’s details.  
  • For qualifications, search for the qualification by keyword or qualification number on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). Click on the qualification to view the name of the WDC that is the new qualification developer. 

The WDCs are also taking on responsibility for running national external moderation and endorsing consent to assess applications for unit standards within their coverage areas.  

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

Qualifications and standards that NZQA is retaining  

NZQA will maintain responsibility for national external moderation and endorsing consent to assess applications for the unit standards they are retaining:  

  • Core Generic (including Literacy and Numeracy)  
  • Supported Learning  
  • Pacific Studies  
  • Music Technology  
  • Social Sciences  
  • Communication skills  
  • English Language  
  • English Language for Academic Purposes  
  • Field Māori

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.

Questions for WDCs?

If you have any questions about a WDC, you can contact them via their website:

Waihanga Ara Rau 

Toi Mai 

Toitū te Waiora 


Muka Tangata 

Ringa Hora 

Use of Unit and Skill Standards

In response to the Review of Achievement Standards, we have been receiving queries about the future of unit standards. Over time, skill standards will replace unit standards as the core components of vocational qualifications. Skill standards are new, and it may take several years for a significant number to be developed. In the meantime, unit standards will continue to count towards the credit requirements for NCEA at all levels, and you can include unit standards in your course planning as you usually would.

In 2022, NZQA will engage with stakeholders and formally consult on the proposed structure of skill standards and how they relate to other types of standards and qualifications. Between late 2021 and mid-2022, NZQA will engage with WDCs, providers (including the schooling sector) and other stakeholders to outline the key components of skill standards and produce sample skill standards for discussion. Following this initial engagement, NZQA plan to conduct formal consultation across the education sector and industry in mid to late 2022. 

Vocational Entrance Award

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 currently in the high-level design phase for the Vocational Entrance Award.
Over 2021 we engaged with a wide range of stakeholders on the Vocational Entrance Award. The Pathways Advisory Group has been one of the key groups that we have engaged with. It is comprised of teachers, principals, careers educators, Transitional Industry Training Organisations, employers and industry representatives, and tertiary providers. We also held additional engagements, including with people from kura and wānanga, and with young people. 

The engagements to date were very high-level and open and explored a range of themes, including:

  • The concept of pathways, and that all ākonga are on a pathway
  • The word “vocational” and the narratives surrounding it 
  • How we support education to employment
  • Designing a system for vocational learning that is easy to understand and navigate 
  • How a meaningful head start can look different for different pathways, including employment pathways, tertiary pathways (including industry training), and even pathways in different industries
  • The importance of promoting vocational education and vocational pathways

We also want to design the Vocational Entrance Award so that it aligns with the direction of travel of the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE). We are carefully working through the phasing and sequencing of the design and implementation of the Vocational Entrance Award because, for example, we expect that the design of skill standards will influence the design of the Vocational Entrance Award. NZQA is currently undertaking preliminary work on the high level design of skill standards in consultation with the Workforce Development Councils. 

As part of the work to strengthen vocational pathways through NCEA, we are also reviewing the NCEA Level 2 Vocational Pathways Award and the Vocational Pathways system. The strengthened system will better promote a wide range of pathways and support ākonga to navigate different options. Schools and wharekura will be supported to incorporate a pathways approach to local curriculum design, course design, and designing mixed-setting learning programmes. 

We will provide a further update in early 2022.