Reform of Vocational Education

Reform of Vocational Education

Last updated 3 July 2019
Last updated 3 July 2019

From February to April 2019 the Minister of Education held a public consultation on the Government’s proposals on the Reform of Vocational Education.

These proposals aim to create an accessible, affordable, flexible and high quality vocational education system that will provide learners with the training they need in a rapidly changing world. 

We received valuable feedback from the sector throughout the consultation period and this infographic provides key engagement facts.

As part of the wider national Education Conversation | Kōrero Mātauranga, this programme is one of the four 'big reviews' in the Education Work Programme.

The Reform of Vocational Education brings together the original Review of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system, led by the Ministry of Education, and the ITP Roadmap 2020 project, led by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), which is looking at ways to secure a sustainable future for New Zealand’s Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs).

Three main proposals for change

The Government has considered this input in detail, and has made three main proposals for change:

  1. new roles for providers and industry bodies (ITOs)
  2. a New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology serving all of New Zealand
  3. a unified funding system.

Engage and learn more

The Reform of Vocational Education on Kōrero Mātauranga has the latest information on the consultation:

  • consultation documents
  • an online survey to share your thoughts
  • engagement events
  • papers and briefings that relate to the Reform of Vocational Education
  • FAQs.

Please email or call 0800 462 543 if you have questions or need assistance.

Ministerial briefings and media releases

For ministerial briefings and media releases see the Reform of Vocational Education on Kōrero Mātauranga

The ITP Roadmap 2020 Project

The TEC established the ITP Roadmap 2020 project in early 2018 to work with the sector and the wider community to identify options for structural change to ITPs.

Our goal was to look at options to make the sector more sustainable and agile while retaining and building on the sector’s key strengths in regional vocational delivery.   

New Zealand needs a strong and resilient ITP sector that sustainably delivers high quality vocational education and training in every region in New Zealand. ITPs are vital in preparing young people for work as well as supporting adults to retrain in a rapidly changing economy. They also provide a significant contribution to their local economies and communities.

There are currently 16 ITPs around the country which collectively receive around $500 million a year in government funding. They are all autonomous Crown entities.

Many ITPs are facing significant financial challenges. Student numbers are in decline, and domestic student numbers reduced by nearly a third in the past 10 years. This is due to a combination of changing demographics, a strong labour market, increased retention at secondary schools, policy and funding changes, and competition from universities and private training establishments.

Some ITPs have remained financially strong; however, most have struggled to adjust to falling enrolments and income. These challenges are pressing and threaten the viability of the sector. While there are some great examples of ITPs changing the way they deliver education and training to continue to be relevant and financially stable, system-level change is necessary to ensure that all New Zealanders have access to quality vocational education and training now and into the future.

During 2018, TEC undertook work with the ITPs to consider changes to their structure and operations to make the sector stronger and more resilient. At the same time, the Ministry of Education led a review of vocational education to identify policy issues needing attention both at ITPs and in the wider vocational system.

TEC met with all 16 ITPs in 2018. We talked to staff, students, local government, the community and other interested parties about what they think will make the sector sustainable.

We also set up working groups to exchange knowledge and created online surveys so more people could contribute to the conversation about the future of ITPs.

TEC provided its advice to the Minister in late 2018. The Minister then considered this advice in the context of broader changes to vocational education, and that work has fed into the Reform of Vocational Education programme.

Information sheets

ITP Roadmap 2020: Sector Financial Modelling

Independent research commissioned by the TEC confirms that the ITP sector is facing significant financial challenges, with the majority of ITPs projected to move into deficit positions from 2018 onwards. This report shows the impact of certain scenarios on the ITP sector’s financial performance between now and 2022.

ITP Roadmap 2020 Sector Financial Modelling report (PDF, 957 Kb)

Financial Modelling FAQs (PDF, 784 Kb) are also available. 

ITP 2016 Financial Performance

There was an overall decline in financial performance in 2016 for the institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITP) sector. ITP 2016 Financial Performance (PDF, 872 Kb) provides an overview of financial performance of the ITP sector in 2016 and key trends over recent years.

Please note: TEC will publish 2017 financial information by August 2018 when all ITPs have provided us with final audited numbers.

Overview of delivery in the ITP sector

Overview of delivery in the ITP sector (PDF, 742 Kb) provides an overview of tertiary education delivery in the institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITP) sector and highlights key changes since 2008.

Tertiary education in a world of changing skills demand

As the world of work changes, New Zealanders will need different skills and capabilities. But it is hard to predict the scale and scope of these changes. Tertiary educators will need to equip learners with the skills they need for a dynamic and unpredictable labour market. Tertiary education in a world of changing skills demand (PDF, 1 Mb) outlines the challenges and offers ideas on how demands can be met.

Profile of learners in the ITP sector

A profile of learners in the ITP sector (PDF, 720 Kb) profiles learners in the institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITP) sector and highlights key changes since 2008.

Regional delivery in the ITP sector

Regional delivery in the ITP sector (PDF, 752 Kb) provides an overview of the institute of technology and polytechnic (ITP) sector’s delivery by region, and highlights key changes since 2012.

A brief history of the ITP sector in New Zealand

This potted history traces the origins of New Zealand’s ITP sector, documenting the key events that have influenced its position in the education system, and exploring where there might be opportunities for the future. A brief history of Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (PDF, 769 Kb)

A timeline of changes to the policy and funding environment for ITPs

This infographic shows what impact legislation, policy changes and reforms had on the governance, funding, planning and quality assurance of ITPs between 1988 and 2018. Changes on the policy and funding environment for ITPs (PDF, 561 Kb)

Useful information

A list of references relating to the ITP Roadmap 2020 project.

General education and other policy

Education to Employment: Designing a System That Works 
Dominic Barton, Diana Farrell, and Mona Mourshed.  McKinsey Report

Discusses how the gap between employment- and skills-need can be closed. Includes an analysis of more than 100 education-to-employment initiatives from 25 countries, selected on the basis of their innovation and effectiveness. Includes a survey of youth, education providers, and employers in nine countries that are diverse in geography and socioeconomic context: Brazil, Germany, India, Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Governing Education in a Complex World  
Edited by Tracey Burns and Florian Koster, Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, OECD

Discusses key challenges involved in governing modern education systems, looking specifically at complexity, accountability, capacity building and strategic thinking. The publication brings together research from the OECD Secretariat and invited chapters from international scholars to provide analysis and a fresh perspective on some of the most challenging issues facing educational systems. Chapter 8 is especially relevant when considering system changes.

History of Tertiary Education Reforms in New Zealand  
Ron Crawford, New Zealand Productivity Commission

Describes successive reforms to the New Zealand tertiary education system over the last 28 years. It identifies the main motivations for reforms, how the reforms played out in practice, and how policy makers made adjustments in response.

Ten Nonprofit Funding Models  
William Landes Foster, Peter Kim, and Barbara Christiansen.  Stanford Social Innovation Review

Summary of non-profit funding models used in the USA aimed at helping non-profit leaders articulate funding models that will support the growth of their organisations and use that insight to examine the potential and constraints associated with those models.

Productivity Commission

New Models of Tertiary Education

New Zealand Productivity Commission

Sets out the current state of New Zealand’s tertiary education system. It makes a number of recommendations that if implemented the commission believes will lead to a more vibrant system that supports experimentation without making unmanageable demands of quality assurance or funding infrastructure.

New models of tertiary education final report

New models of tertiary education – At a glance

New models of tertiary education - overview

ITP sector submissions on the Productivity Commission’s report

Submission on the issues paper

Submission on the draft report

New Zealand Tertiary Education Union Submission on the Productivity Commission report

‘Where to for New Zealand Tertiary Education’ research notes.

VET system design: theory and case studies

A Challenge and an Opportunity in College Education (Canada)  
Alex Usher, Higher education Strategy Associates

Overview of two issues that came up in the Manitoba College Review: providing post-secondary education in rural and remote communities, and the modernity of training facilities.  (Note: Canadian Colleges are broadly similar to New Zealand’s ITPs.)

The Manitoba College review.

A Differentiated Model for Tertiary Education: Past Ideas, Contemporary Policy and Future Possibilities  
Francesca Beddie, National Vocational Education and Training Research Programme (Australia)

Discussion of the binary Australian education system and identification of four main issues as enduring problems for tertiary education: the diversity and parity of esteem between the various elements of the tertiary education sector; the pathways within education and to the labour market; the place of research in mass tertiary education; and governance and autonomy.

Crazy Paving or Stepping Stones? Learning Pathways Within and Between Vocational Education and Training and Higher Education  
Roger Harris, Linda Rainey, Robert Sumner. National Centre for Vocational Education Research: Adelaide (Australia)

Examines patterns of pathways between and within vocational education and training (VET) and higher education in South Australia.

First Count to Five: Some Principles For the Reform of Vocational Qualifications in England  
David Raffe.  Journal of Education and Work

Review of the weaknesses of English vocational qualifications and the case for reform, proposing a deliberative and incremental approach to change and five principles upon which this should be based - t– that the process of change is as important as the content of change; that institutions matter; that the purposes of reform need to be clear, consistent and realistic; that reforms should help to create a more unified qualifications system; and that the interests of the UK’s other home countries should be considered.

Ireland to Create New Technological Universities  
ICEF Monitor

Summarises the creation of ‘Technological Universities’ through merging two or more institutes of technology to create organisations that focus on science and technology programmes that are vocationally and professionally oriented. The reference notes this will result in improved economies of scale by merging smaller institutes, more balanced regional linkages, more communities with a university of their own, and strengthen recruiting – international students in particular.

The Boundaries and Connections Between the VET and Higher Education Sectors: ‘Confused, Contested and Collaborative’  
Craig Fowler

A brief illustration and commentary on the relative trend change and potential trajectories of Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector compared to the higher education sector. This paper also explores in detail the multiple issues that lie at what might be described as the ‘boundaries and connections’ between these two components of the Australian tertiary education system.

VET Funding in Australia: Background, Trends and Future Directions  
Peter Noonan.  Mitchell Institute Policy Paper

Discussion of current state, historical context and possible future changes to the Vocation Education and Training system in Australia.

Vocational Education Qualifications’ Roles in Pathways to Work in Liberal Market Economies  
Leesa Wheelahan and Gavin Moodie (2017), Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 69:1, 10-27, DOI: 10.1080/13636820.2016.1275031

Background information about the vocational education system in Canada and Australia, and the roles for qualifications in providing pathways (to work, further study, social mobility). Outlines rationale for improving links between qualifications and occupations. It notes that the extent to which vocational qualifications ‘match’ students to jobs is much more about the structure of the demand-side (the labour market and economy) than the supply-side (what students and TEOs do). This is relevant to New Zealand because we have low rates of matching from qualifications to occupations.

What Can New Zealand Polytechnics Take From Recent TAFE Transformations in Australia?  
Ernst and Young

Outcomes of desktop analysis and observations of Australian TAFE (Technical and Further Education) institutions.  The report compares centralised and de-centralised TAFE models, and provides an overview of key success factors for modern high-performing TAFE institutions in Australia. TAFE transformations.

Work-Integrated Learning in Ontario’s Postsecondary Sector  
Peggy Sattler and Julie Peters.  Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (Canada)

This report presents findings from the Graduating Student Survey on Learning and Work, conducted as part of a multi-phase study launched by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario in 2009 to build the knowledge base about postsecondary work integrated learning in Ontario. In addition to the survey of graduating students, the study also includes surveys of Ontario employers and postsecondary faculty, as well as a follow-up study to assess the post-graduation outcomes of graduating student respondents.

Technology, e-learning and online delivery

Can Online Delivery Increase Access to Education?  
Joshua Goodman, Julia Melkers, Amanda Pallais. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper.

Review of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Online M.S. in Computer Science and how on-line study options increase overall enrolment in tertiary education.

Design Jam Report – E-Learning Solutions for Canadians and Canadian Ecosystem Map  
Office of Literacy and Essential Skills, Employment and Social Development Canada

Report back from event held with stakeholders to determine current state, future needs and goals, and determine next steps for developing and improving e-learning in Canada.

E-learning and Higher Education: Understanding and Supporting Organisational Change  
Stephen Marshall.  Ako Aotearoa 

Summary of the implementation of change influenced by technology in a New Zealand university, a PTE, a wānanga and an ITP. Their e-learning capability was benchmarked using the e-learning Maturity Model and this information used to stimulate and support change activities.

Information Communication Technologies and Tertiary Education  
Brent Neilson, New Zealand Tertiary Education Union

Review of the place of technology in education. Notes the benefits ICT can bring, but also the need for caution and more research to understand the needs of teachers and students, and understand the risks of ICT and online provision.

Report on the Distance and Flexible Education Capability Assessment of the New Zealand ITP Sector  
Terry Neal and Stephen Marshall.  NCVER

This report presents the 2006 results of the distance and flexible education (DFE) capability assessment of the New Zealand institute of technology and polytechnic (ITP) sector.

2016 NMC Technology Outlook for Australian Tertiary Education: A Horizon Project Regional Report  
S. Adams Becker, M. Cummins, A. Davis, and B. Yuhnke 

Reflects a collaborative research effort between the New Media Consortium (NMC) and Open Universities Australia to inform Australian campus leaders and decision-makers about significant developments in technologies supporting teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in tertiary education across the continent.

Innovation: theory and policy

Barriers to Innovation and Change in Higher Education  
Lloyd Armstrong, University of Southern California

Outlines some of the reasons why bringing disruptive change to higher educational institutions will be more difficult than bringing such change to a typical corporation. The paper related to the USA but the analysis applies to the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand too.

Beyond Retrofitting: Innovation in Higher Education  
Andrew P. Kelly and Frederick M. Hess. Hudson Institute Initiative on Future Innovation (USA)

Discussion of proposals for re-engineering higher education in the USA.

Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education  
Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, Louis Soares, and Louis Caldera.  Center for American Progress and Innosight Institute 

Review of challenges in the American education system including recommendations for policy makers.

From Design Thinking to Systems Change: How to Invest in Innovation for Social Impact  
Rowan Conway, Jeff Masters and Jake Thorold.  Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce (RSA) Action and Research Centre and Innovate UK

This report introduces a new model for marrying design and systems thinking to understand the system being targeted and identify promising opportunities for change based on that analysis. By appreciating factors like power dynamics, competing incentives and cultural norms, innovators can prepare themselves for barriers to change, and find the entrepreneurial routes around them to successfully affect system change.

Unbundling Higher Education: A Doubly Updated Framework  
Michael Staton

Framework for the value proposition of higher education from the customer (student) perspective.

Innovation: case studies

A Free, Teacher-Less University in France is Schooling Thousands of Future-Proof Programmers  
J. Anderson.  QUARTZ

Review and summary of a French teacher-less coding School (Ecole 42)

The Amazon of Higher Education: How Tiny, Struggling Southern New Hampshire University Has Become a Behemoth  
Gabriel Kahn

Summary of how Southern New Hampshire University reversed trends in declining enrolments and poor finances.

The Online College That Credits Life Experience  
Nancy Cook.  The Atlantic

Discussion and Review of Western Governors University, which uses the on-line competency-based education model of learning to recognise student’s existing skills and knowledge in their chosen field of study.

This French Tech School Has No Teachers, No Books, No Tuition – And it Could Change Everything  
Dylan Tweney. VentureBeat

Additional review and summary of Ecole 42 coding School.

Universities to Launch Schemes Allowing People to Work While Studying For Degree  
Sandra Davie. Straits Times (Singapore)

Press release about Singaporean universities using the German/Swiss apprenticeship model.

Student engagement

Evaluating a Tertiary High School: Enabling Students Disengaged from School  
Colleen M. Young.  PhD thesis, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne (Australia). 

This study argues that, for an increasing number of senior secondary school students, the current schooling system does not prepare them successfully for future tertiary study or for their future careers. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the first two years of a Tertiary High School (THS), which opened with 46 Year 11 (Australia, Year 10) students in February 2010. Using a collaborative student selection process, the students were identified by their previous school as being at risk of failing in the traditional school system. The school principal, the family and the THS principal worked together with the student to decide on whether the student would suit the THS environment prior to enrolling (situated at Manukau Institute of Technology in Otara, Auckland).

Student Engagement at New Zealand Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics  
Ako Aotearoa and Australian Council for Educational Research

This report from Ako Aotearoa and the Australian Council for Educational Research analyses how students are engaging with their studies in Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) in New Zealand.

Through the Learning Lens  
George Boggs

This article discusses how tertiary providers need to focus on achieving their true mission of advancing student learning. The author argues that, to stay successful and manage external disruptions, tertiary providers need to innovate and change how they operate in order to achieve that goal, rather than continuing to follow established processes that have worked in the past.