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.

As of 4 October, four 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 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 

As of 4 October 2021, the six new Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) which represent all industries in Aotearoa became 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 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 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 of learning. NZQA is planning to consult on the proposed structure of these standards.

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

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. 

In 2020 and 2021, we have engaged with a wide range of stakeholders on the high-level design of this Award, including schools and wharekura, tertiary providers, Industry Training Organisations, employers and industry representatives, and young people. The Pathways Advisory Group has been one of the key groups that we have engaged with. It is comprised of teachers, principals, careers educators, representatives from industry, tertiary providers and standard-setting bodies. The Group’s key role is to provide expert advice to the Ministry relating to ākonga pathways from secondary education into further education and employment.  

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. 

Further communications will be provided in late 2021.