Center on International Education Benchmarking

New Zealand: School-to-Work Transition

Overview | Teacher and Principal Quality | Instructional Systems
System and School Organization | Education For All | School-to-Work Transition

New Zealand was among CIEB’s Top Performing Countries for 2009. This profile has been archived and is no longer being updated.

New Zealand has been committed to building a strong vocational education system for several decades. In 1992, the Industry Training Act established 39 Industry Training Organizations (ITO). ITOs are funded publicly, and provide training and leadership on training within their industries. In 1995, New Zealand established a qualifications framework to ensure consistency in occupational training.

Starting in upper secondary school, students may choose to specialize in vocational education, or choose to pursue a combined program of vocational and general classes. Many upper secondary schools have a bridge program with tertiary vocational education providers, allowing students to transition smoothly into professional training upon completion of secondary school. Students who focus on their vocational education in secondary school generally go on to attend an Institute of Technology or Polytechnic; the full-time degree students receive there is considered on par with a university degree. These institutions also offer a wide range of other courses, from post-graduate degrees to part-time certifications. Alternately, students may choose to pursue vocational education at a private institution, an ITO, or a Training and Further Education College. In order to ensure uniformity of coursework, New Zealand also has a National Qualifications Framework (NZQF), against which any person’s qualifications and achievements may be measured. The NZQF was established in 2010 as an update of an older framework that had been in place since 1995, and oversees the National Certificate of Educational Achievement, which students earn upon graduation from secondary school, as well as qualifications for a number of skilled trades. Training programs can apply to have their qualifications certified and listed by the NZQF, and the list of certified qualifications are publicly available, providing a service to both students seeking to enhance their skills and employers seeking to understand potential employees’ competence levels. Certified qualifications must meet the frameworks established by the NZQF.

New Zealand’s National Qualifications Framework also factors into lifelong learning policy and initiatives. The Ministry encourages continuing professional and personal development in all sectors, and maintains a Record of Learning for each citizen who engages in approved development courses. The majority of sub-degree qualifications have been modified to fit this system, and quality assurance groups monitor education providers. The units of learning provide clear career pathways for many professions, and allow employees easily to transfer between jobs while receiving recognition for their training.

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