Youth Guarantee Fund

Youth Guarantee Fund

Last updated 24 April 2017
Last updated 04/24/2017

Youth Guarantee initiatives improve the transition from school to work, by providing a wider range of learning opportunities, making better use of the education network, and creating clear pathways from school to work and study.

The Youth Guarantee Fund is part of a wider Youth Guarantee suite of initiatives that includes Vocational Pathways and Secondary-Tertiary Programmes (such as Trades Academies). These initiatives provide opportunities for students to achieve a minimum of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) level 2 or equivalent, to enable progression to higher levels of study, training or employment. More information on the wider Youth Guarantee programmes is available from the Ministry of Education or at


The Youth Guarantee Fund provides fees-free tertiary education for students aged 16-19 years who have no or low prior qualification achievement. It contributes to the Government’s Better Public Services target of increased proportions of young people achieving NCEA level 2 or an equivalent qualification.


Students may study towards:

  • NCEA level 1 and 2 aligned to the Vocational Pathways
  • another qualification at level 1 or 2 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF), or
  • a qualification at level 3 on the NZQF, particularly if the student:
    • has no or low (level 1) prior achievement before enrolling in Youth Guarantee, or
    • has achieved level 1 or 2 qualification(s) through Youth Guarantee and is progressing to a level 3 Youth Guarantee qualification during their two equivalent full-time students (EFTS) Youth Guarantee entitlement.


Programmes must:

  • improve student transitions between school, tertiary education, and work
  • increase overall achievement for Māori, Pasifika, and 'at risk' students with special education needs, and
  • reduce the overall number of young people who are not in employment, education, or training (NEETs).

NCEA level 1 and 2

NCEA level 1 and 2 programmes must be aligned to the Vocational Pathways. This means all of the achievement and unit standards are:

  • sector-related, or
  • recommended standards from the Vocational Pathways. 

NCEA level 2 programmes must lead to the award of at least one Vocational Pathway.

Key changes from January 2017 (summarised)

A number of changes have been made to the Youth Guarantee scheme from January 2017, as follows:

Purpose of funding

The purpose of Youth Guarantee funding is now clearer about the different learners to be targeted depending on the level of the qualification they are enrolling in. Youth Guarantee is to provide fees-free tertiary places for students aged 16-19 years.

Provision at:

  • levels 1 and 2 is to enable students to progress to higher-level education or employment, and
  • level 3 is for:
    • students who have no or low prior achievement before enrolling and/or
    • students who have completed a level 1 and/or level 2 qualification in Youth Guarantee and are then progressing to a level 3 qualification.

Reporting withdrawals to Ministry of Social Development

Tertiary education organisations (TEOs) must now report withdrawals of students to the Ministry of Social Development within five working days of each withdrawal. This is to enable student loans and student allowances to be cancelled as soon as possible.  

See Condition: Reporting Withdrawals to the Ministry of Social Development (Studylink).

Student eligibility

For programmes leading to award of a qualification at level 3, each TEO must prioritise enrolments to:

  • students who have no or low prior achievement (i.e. no qualification or a level 1 qualification) before enrolling, and
  • students who have completed a level 1 and/or level 2 qualification in Youth Guarantee and are then progressing to a level 3 qualification during their two EFTS entitlement.

Note: This is additional to the requirement that a TEO not enrol a student in a Youth Guarantee programme if the student has already achieved a qualification at level 3 or above on the NZQF.

See Condition: Student eligibility.

Flexible funding

A minimum of $216,000 in Youth Guarantee funding in the funding year replaces the previous eligibility requirement that a TEO be approved to deliver a minimum of 20 funded EFTS in non-trades provision or 15 funded EFTS of trades provision. The change allows for variances in TEO mixes of provision.

See Condition: Flexible funding.


For further information on TEC-funded foundation learning programmes go to:

For further information on Youth Guarantee go to:

Other resources include:

Additional resources