Changes to the vocational education sector

In 2020, the government implemented reforms of the vocational education sector to create a strong, unified, sustainable vocational education system that is fit for the future of work and delivers the skills that learners, employers and communities need to thrive.

See the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) page for all the details and changes.

These changes affect all education organisations, but some more than others.

When do the changes start?

These changes start from 1 April 2020 and may run until December 2022.

Not all changes will happen straightaway.

Industry training organisations (ITOs)

From 1 April 2020, ITOs will become transitional industry training organisations (transitional ITOs).

From April 2020 to December 2022, the coverage and role of transitional ITOs will be transferred to workforce development councils (WDCs), the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST), its subsidiaries and other education organisations.

Over this period:

  • WDCs will be established. WDCs will set standards and be responsible for qualifications for the industries that they are responsible for, as well as work with the related industries and sectors.
  • Tertiary education organisations, including NZIST and its subsidiaries, will take over the administration and support of workplace learning from transitional ITOs.

How is a transitional ITO different than an ITO?

There is no difference in their function or how they operate.

Over time, transitional ITOs will transfer their functions to other organisations:

  • the administration and support of workplace learning will transfer to tertiary education providers.
  • the standard setting function will transfer to workforce development councils (WDCs).

What are WDCs?

WDCs will support industry to take a lead in making New Zealand’s workforce fit for today, and the future. Through skills leadership plans, they will set a vision for the workforce and influence the vocational education and training system.

From the 1 April 2020, the six industry-led WDCs will be established:

  • Creative, Cultural and Recreation
  • Primary Industries
  • Service Industries
  • Health, Community and Social Services
  • Manufacturing, Engineering, Logistics and Technology
  • Construction and Infrastructure.

The aim is to have all six WDCs established and working by mid-2021.

For the proposed coverage of each WDC, see the RoVE – Workforce Development Council fact sheet.

What will WDCs do?

WDCs will take over some of the key functions of the transitional industry training organisations (transitional ITOs), such as ensuring that industry qualifications meet industry needs.

They will also take on additional functions such as:

  • providing skills leadership for their industry
  • providing advice to the Tertiary Education Commission on funding decisions
  • endorsing programmes that lead to industry qualifications, whether work-based (such as apprenticeships), on-campus or online. Unless a programme has the confidence of a WDC, which is essentially industry confidence, it won’t be approved or funded.
  • providing employers with brokerage and advisory services.

WDCs won’t be directly involved in arranging apprenticeships and other on-the-job training.

Institutes of technology/polytechnics (ITPs)

From 1 April, all institutes of technology/polytechnics (ITPs) will become subsidiaries of a new and larger entity, called New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST).

NZIST’s name will change in 2020, after the results of public consultation have been announced.

What is NZIST?

The New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology is a sustainable, national network of regionally accessible vocational education and training.

It will:

  • include all the existing 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics
  • over time, integrate work-based learning into a unified vocational education system.

Will the NZIST subsidiaries change their names?

They will retain their current trading names.

Their legal name will change to reflect that they are a subsidiary of NZIST.

Education organisations and workplace learning

From 1 April 2020, transitional ITOs will develop transition plans to transfer their functions to providers and WDCs (see the How is a transitional ITO different than an ITO? section above for more details).

This transition plans will include:

  • Enrolment and administration
  • Practical support and arrangements for liaising with the workplace
  • Health and safety requirements
  • Pastoral care
  • Record keeping
  • Reporting credits and other achievements
  • Meeting all regulatory or government requirements.

What will happen to learners enrolled with NZIST subsidiaries?

Learners will be enrolled in the same organisation and their study will continue as much as possible under the current circumstances.

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