Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs)

Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs)

Last updated 3 September 2020
Last updated 3 September 2020

Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) will play a significant role in driving innovation and excellence in vocational education, by strengthening links with industry and communities. The first two CoVEs are a Construction CoVE and a Primary Sector CoVE.

In September 2020 the Education Minister announced details of the two successful groups confirmed to establish the first two CoVEs. Find out more about the Construction CoVE and the Primary Sector CoVE.

What is a Centre of Vocational Excellence?

Each CoVE will operate as part of the vocational education system, working closely with Workforce Development Councils, Regional Skills Leadership Groups, and Te Pūkenga.

The first two CoVEs will be a Construction CoVE and a Primary Sector CoVE, but the scope and coverage of future CoVEs could be defined by industry, occupation, or by type of delivery, for example: kaupapa Māori, online learning, or foundation education.

The exciting thing about CoVEs is that the specific functions and activity of each CoVE will be generated by the applicants rather than tightly specified by the government. TEC will make sure that each CoVE is a genuine centre of excellence, bringing together the right people to identify opportunities, solve problems, and drive innovation.

CoVEs must:

  • Support the growth of excellent vocational education with a focus on teaching, learning and research
  • Support the development and sharing of high-quality curriculum and programme design
  • Be a consortium with expert representation from industry, the wider sector, and a range of other areas, for example iwi and vocational education representatives
  • Have a national focus
  • Be hosted by a regional campus of Te Pūkenga or a wānanga
  • Address issues and opportunities with a significant strategic impact, ideally with wide-reaching benefits across the sector
  • Solve real problems and grasp viable opportunities

CoVEs may:

 (These are examples only)

  • Provide training support for employers to improve their skills-building ability
  • Share applied research with providers and industry to improve knowledge exchange
  • Improve pathways through vocational education including from school
  • Provide learning technologies across the network to minimise cost and duplication
  • Provide advice to providers and employers on best practice pastoral care to support learners
  • Devise and implement other innovative solutions and opportunities as determined by the CoVE consortium 

CoVEs won’t:

Assess workforce needs


WDCs will do this

Develop qualifications

Design or endorse programmes

Set and moderate assessments

Facilitate workplace training


NZIST or PTEs will do this

Deliver directly to learners

How was the successful candidate chosen for each CoVE?

The selection process was a two-stage contestable process that included:

  • A Registration of Interest (RoI) process open to any applicants
  • A Request for Proposal (RfP) process restricted to shortlisted applicants.

Successful RoI applicants were invited to submit a Request for Proposal to provide further details around their proposal.

An independent panel of industry experts evaluated submissions at each stage, and put forward a recommendation to the TEC Board.

The process was overseen by an independent probity auditor from Audit New Zealand.

Find out more about CoVEs

Watch this short video, filmed in March, to find out more about what CoVEs will do in the new vocational education system.

Download the transcript (Word, 66 Kb)

CoVEs Workshops

In November 2019 we held a series of CoVEs workshops and webinars to discuss the potential scope and functions of CoVEs. About 168 stakeholders from primary and construction sectors were involved. These included industry representatives, peak bodies, iwi, education and training organisations (ITPs, ITOs, wānanga, PTEs, schools and universities), employers, unions, the Institute’s establishment board, and government agencies.

Read the summary of findings (PPT, 6.4 Mb) and find new Q&As below.

Minister Announcements

1 January 2020 - Funding determination for CoVEs (PDF, 408 Kb)

23 October 2019 - Tertiary Education Report: Update on pilot CoVEs and confirmation of funding mechanism (PDF, 535 Kb)

19 August 2019 - Media release on Construction CoVE

15 August 2019 - Media release on Primary Sector CoVE

Centres of Vocational Excellence - Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ section will be added to as new questions are received. Please email your questions to CoVEs@tec.govt.nz.   

Questions related to the Registration of Interest process can be found on the Construction CoVE Q&As page and the Primary Sector CoVE Q&As page.

What is a CoVE?

CoVEs will be based at a site of the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology (Te Pūkenga), or wānanga, and will involve industry, providers and other relevant groups working together to share best practice and knowledge. For example, they will support the growth of quality vocational education through sharing high quality-curriculum and programme design, but could also offer different functions, which will be decided through the evaluation and selection process for each being established.

CoVEs will address specific issues and opportunities over the term of their funding. There is $5 million of funding available per year, for up to five years, for the first two pilot CoVEs. They are intended to be an enduring part of the vocational education system, but their purpose, deliverables and membership may change over time.  

We expect that further CoVEs will be established in 2020/2021 but the industry focus of these CoVEs is still to be confirmed.

How many CoVEs will there be? What will they cover?

Cabinet has approved funding for two initial pilot CoVEs. These will be a Primary Sector CoVE and a Construction CoVE. A Health CoVE is also being considered.

There will eventually be a network of CoVEs across New Zealand. The total number of CoVEs is yet to be determined and could be subject to change over time.

The scope of coverage of future CoVEs could be defined by industry, occupation, or by type of delivery, for example: kaupapa Māori, online learning, or foundation education.

The specific scope of coverage for, and functions of, each CoVE will be tailored to ensure that the CoVE is a genuine centre of excellence. The parameters will be developed by TEC in consultation with significant stakeholder groups. The specific details of each CoVE should be generated by applicants, rather than tightly specified by government.

What are the functions of the Primary Sector CoVE and the Construction CoVE?

The scope and other functions of the Primary Sector and Construction CoVEs have not been set by the government. We will develop the parameters for each CoVE through consultation and co-design with significant stakeholders, and based on feedback from interested parties. The specific details of what each CoVE will do, its outcomes, the function it will perform, where it will be hosted, and who else will be involved, will be generated by applicants as part of the Registration of Interest process.

How will you select who will run each CoVE?

TEC will run a selection process to select the consortium groups that will run each CoVE. The selection process will consist of a Registration of Interest round, followed by a Request for Proposal round.

The indicative timeframes for these processes in relation to the Primary Sector CoVE and Construction CoVE are set out on our website.

Each CoVE will be a consortium made up of interested parties relevant to the subject area of the CoVE. The contractual lead for the CoVE will be the Institute (or its subsidiary), or a wānanga.

[Please note – this section was updated on 25 October 2019]

Who will CoVEs report to?

The management and governance arrangements for each CoVE will be a matter for consortium groups to determine as part of the design and application process.

CoVEs will be required to report to TEC periodically about the KPIs and milestones set out in their funding agreement with TEC.

What funding is available for CoVEs?

There is $5m of funding available per year, for up to five years, for the first two pilot CoVEs. It is expected that CoVE consortium members will also contribute or source additional financial support to the CoVE.

Funding will be appropriated for subsequent CoVEs in due course.

How can I apply to set up a CoVE?

The application process the Construction CoVE is available here, and the Primary Sector CoVE application process is available here.

Why was construction chosen as one of the first CoVEs?

Primary Sector and Construction are important areas where we need skills to ensure a strong, sustainable New Zealand. An estimated 80,000 new workers are required in construction alone over the next five years. The industry needs significant focus and innovation to solve problems and create opportunities that attract new skilled workers and provide more training.

Does the Construction CoVE include infrastructure?

The term ‘Construction CoVE’ includes both construction and infrastructure.

Is there an overlap of roles and responsibilities between the WDCs and CoVEs?   

A CoVE will be most valuable if it doesn’t duplicate other activities carried out in the system including the WDCs which will be four to seven industry-governed bodies dedicated to helping industry take a lead in making New Zealand’s workforce fit for today and the future. Read more information about the function of WDCs.

This does not limit the CoVE in assisting other parts of the system with aspects of their role, for example through identifying best practice, innovations or carrying out research, but its role must remain independent of other parts of the new Vocational Education System. 

Can CoVEs include degree level and university provision?

The Reform of Vocational Education is generally related to industry training and off-the-job education at non-degree NZQF levels 3 to 7. However, it may be beneficial for CoVEs to cover some degree-level supply. If degree-level study is included within the CoVE function, universities may want to be involved.    

The construction sector is very fragmented. How can we tackle this issue?

The formation of the Construction Sector Accord and the Food & Fibre Skills Action Establishment Group are recent examples of how industry, government and interested stakeholders have successfully collaborated in priority work areas.

TEC encourages representatives to collaborate and can facilitate this by connecting different groups and representatives.

Are there any limitations on who can be part of the consortium including Te Pūkenga and WDCs?

There are no restrictions on who can be part of a consortium. 

Does the “host” (Te Pūkenga or wānanga) own a CoVE’s funding?

The operating model the CoVE develops and adopts as part of its establishment process will govern how funds are managed internally and the wānanga or NZIST’s supporting role and responsibilities.

Will the CoVEs be self-managed and who will they be accountable to?

They will be self-managed but will need to provide milestone reporting to TEC on a periodic basis.

What can the funding be spent on, e.g. infrastructure? Will TEC specify this?

TEC will not specify how the CoVE funding should be spent. However, we will consider the benefits that can be delivered to the sector and the value for money when assessing each application.

Why are TEC not adopting a best practice model from overseas and directing the industry?

TEC want to let industry decide how best to use CoVE funding.

What can I do if I’m concerned the selection process hasn’t been followed correctly?

An independent probity auditor has been appointed by MBIE to overview the RoI and RfP process and verify that the procedures set out are complied with. The probity auditor is not a member of the evaluation team. A respondent concerned about any procedural issue has the right to contact the probity auditor and request his review.

The name and contact details are as follows:
Jonathan Roylance
Associate Director, Specialist Audit and Assurance Services
Audit New Zealand
Level 1, 100 Molesworth Street, Wellington
Email: jonathan.roylance@auditnz.govt.nz
Phone: 021 222 8629