Work-based: pathway to work mode

Kei te wāhi mahi: te ara ki te aratau mahi

Last updated 19 July 2023
Last updated 19 July 2023


The work-based: pathway to work mode supports a transition from provider-based to work-based learning. It consists of a three-step process:

  1. starting in the provider-based setting,
  2. moving into the work-based: pathway to work setting, and
  3. completing study in the work-based mode.

The funding for this mode covers the transition period from provider-based (or provider-based: extramural) to work-based learning.

Micro-credentials are not eligible for funding under this mode.

The learner is enrolled with the provider, and delivery has transitioned from provider-based or provider-based: extramural mode to work-based learning with the same provider. Learning is provided in partnership by the provider and employer.

Work-based: pathway to work only occurs when there are formal agreements in place covering each party’s roles and responsibilities, including: 

  • an agreement between the provider and employer outlining the arrangement to support learners in a work-based learning environment
  • an enrolment agreement between the learner and provider
  • a training agreement, which forms part of the formal employment agreement or relevant equivalent, between the employer and employee/learner.

The required agreements must cover all relevant learner and programme information and clarify provider and employer responsibility. We have not prescribed a specific format or template for these, but they should cover: 

  • learner, employer and provider obligations
  • the learning programme for the relevant mode or modes and the learning outcomes to be achieved
  • a structured programme in place so the learner can achieve their learning outcomes and to support their transition from one mode of delivery to another
  • enrolment and withdrawal processes
  • variation and termination processes.

This mode is to support learners to gain suitable, meaningful and sustainable employment relevant to their programme of learning, which:

  • provides opportunities within the same industry as the qualification of study
  • provides employment that aligns with the learner’s current skill set and capability, and
  • enables the learner to continue their learning journey and career development.

The provider will actively assist the learner to find employment, and will support and establish their learning in the workplace. The role of supporting workplace-based learning has shifted from the Transitional Industry Training Organisations to other providers (Te Pūkenga, private training establishments [PTEs] and wānanga).


The learner can only transition from provider-based or provider-based: extramural mode to the work-based: pathway to work mode to continue their learning towards an NZQA-approved qualification when:

  • the employment opportunity is relevant to their continuing programme of study
  • the training covers up to 30 credits or a period of 3 months (whichever comes first), and
  • the work-based learning is from the same provider.

The prerequisites for this mode are that:

  • the learner has been awarded some credits in either the provider-based mode, or the provider-based: extramural mode in a relevant programme of study (eg, same field of study or industry connection)
  • the learner must not have been enrolled in TEC-funded work-based learning for at least six months prior to studying for the same (or a similar) qualification
  • the learner has not completed 75 percent of the same programme in the last three years.

The provider is funded to:

  • deliver programmes that enable learners to enter the workforce while undertaking learning towards a qualification that meets regional and national skills priorities
  • find suitable employment that provides work-based learning opportunities for the learner
  • work with the employer to develop the required agreements, identify relevant training needs, develop a learner pathway and a learner-specific training agreement
  • enrol the learner in relevant courses
  • work with the employer to deliver learning, and support a transition to work-based learning
  • provide all learning support and pastoral care in relation to the learner’s needs, in accordance with the Code of Practice for Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners (PDF 925 KB)
  • assess and, where necessary, develop employer capability for training and verification of skill acquisition
  • provide learning and assessment material towards an NZQA-approved credential (Level 3-7 non-degree)
  • undertake all assessment and quality assurance activities* to NZQA standards.

The employer is required to:

  • ensure there are formal agreements that clearly define each party’s responsibilities and describe the training that will continue under the work-based mode
  • ensure there is a formal written employment agreement with the learner that complies with the Employment Relations Act 2000, or a relevant equivalent for volunteers or contractors
  • provide regular training and supervision during work hours**
  • support the learner’s relevant skill acquisition and any self-directed learning through providing resources
  • work with the provider to ensure the learner completes the work-based learning modules to achieve the learning outcomes within the relevant agreement
  • transition the learner to work-based learning once they have met the learning outcomes identified as a prerequisite to enter the work-based mode, as defined in the relevant agreement.

* Assessment activities include verification and moderation and can include purchasing and using assessment resources from an external source.

** Hours are to be agreed between the employer and the learner.

More guidance

The work-based: pathway to work mode recognises the extra effort and support often required to transition a learner from an existing provider-based programme of learning into suitable, meaningful and sustainable work-based learning. This mode supports the transition by funding the provider’s extra effort to support the learner.

For you to receive funding under this mode of delivery, we require evidence of employment and work-based learning (ie, up to 30 credits or not less than 3 months) at the end of the pathway period.

Both the provider and the employer need to be clear on their pastoral support arrangements and ensure the learner has a safe place to learn. Document this in the relevant agreement between the two parties. Overall, the provider is responsible for the learner’s health and wellbeing. The employer is responsible for the learner’s health and wellbeing in accordance with statutory workplace health and safety requirements.

In terms of whether the learner has previously been enrolled in similar and related qualifications, we will consider:

  • the course funding category
  • the New Zealand Standard Classification of Education (NZSCED) code, and
  • any overlap in learning outcomes between the programmes.

We will allow for the fact that there may be variations on a case-by-case basis.

The learner can have an existing job elsewhere so long as it does not involve funded, work-based learning. This is because the pathway to work mode is about finding the learner a job in their field of study that will allow them to continue to study.

The point at which a learner transitions from one mode of delivery to another, and the length of each mode, can vary by programme and learner. We expect a seamless transition between modes for the learner. This is to ensure they see the transition from a provider setting into supported workplace learning and on to independent workplace learning as a natural progression, and don’t lose the momentum of learning.

If there is a gap of more than 90 days between a provider-based enrolment period and subsequent work-based programme enrolment, this is a new enrolment, and not eligible for the pathway to work mode.

The pathway to work mode is a short-term transition from provider-based learning to work-based learning (ie, 30 credits or 3 months). In the very rare cases where a “pathwaying” learner transfers from one tertiary education organisation (TEO) to another, the new, work-based TEO qualifies for the pathway to work mode rate relating to the learner.

In the work-based: pathway to work mode the provider is funded to actively assist the learner to find suitable, meaningful and sustainable employment and then support the learner to establish their learning in the workplace. It will also involve signing an agreement between the three parties (learner, provider and employer).

If the provider is not active in respect to the learner gaining employment and supporting them to transition to work-based learning, then this learner is not eligible for the pathway to work funding rate, but would be in the work-based mode.

Payment calculation

We will compare the data in the Industry Training Register (ITR) and Single Data Return (SDR) to identify:

  • learners who:
    • initially enrolled in provider-based or provider-based: extramural learning, and
    • have transitioned to work-based learning, and
  • that other relevant data requirements have passed pathway validations.

You will receive a template with data for all learners who match the system rules through WorkSpace 2 (WS2). Please complete the Pathway Verified Flag informing us whether each learner’s transition meets the requirement for pathway mode.

Eligible TEOs are required to submit a template, via WS2, to signal YES (learner event meets the criteria for pathway mode), or NO (it does not meet criteria). This return is due monthly. You may need to submit a final template, or amendments to previously submitted templates, at the same time as the ITR final cut-off of 31 March (the following year).

Payments will be made to TEOs when the learner has either:

  • completed the three months, or
  • completed 30 credits, or
  • withdrawn from the programme and the three months cut-off has been reached. After this, payment will be made up to the withdrawal date (rounded up to the nearest month).

Adjustments after reviewing data and other information

TEC will be monitoring the data and engaging with TEOs about what they are doing with pathway learners. If this results in changes to the WS2 return (eg, changing the previously submitted YES or NO), the impact will be reflected in the next YTD total payment calculation (ie, the funding will be “washed-up” on an ongoing basis each year, not just at the year-end).

Payments will be made on actuals three times per year after the WS2 and SDR submission.

Note: Round up partial months for the purposes of the payment calculation. For example: 1.1 months of reported learning in the pathways template will equate to and be rounded up to two months, which will be accounted for the funding calculation. This is consistent with how the ITR calculates STM values.

Payment calculation

The TEO has already been allocated (and paid) for volumes under the work-based funding rate. The payment for pathway is to recognise the currently unfunded difference between:

  • the rate applicable for the work-based: pathway to work mode, and
  • the rate applicable for the work-based mode.


Transition between modes using work-based: pathway to work



Credit value

Note regarding credit value

Mode of delivery

Day 1

Mary enrols at TEO

60 credits

There is no minimum or maximum credit value required for the initial provider-based mode (but this cannot be a micro-credential)

Provider-based, or
provider-based: extramural

Day X

Mary becomes an employee with a training agreement

30 credits/3 months


Work-based: pathway to work

After [Day X + 3 months] until programme is complete

Mainly: Mary continues in work, and training towards her L3 programme

Remaining credit value (less any provider-based as below)

Due to the nominal credit value (STM) calculated by the ITR, it is likely that Mary would not complete 30 credits within the first three months


Could include, if required: Mary's programme may also require some further provider-based delivery (eg, a block course)

Block course credit value

The credit/EFTS value is calculated in the normal way by the SDR

Provider-based, or
provider-based: extramural


Provider C currently delivers programmes under three modes: provider-based, provider-based: extramural and work-based. They leverage their close contacts with local engineering businesses and their own staff expertise and equipment, in response to their Regional Skills Leadership Group suggesting there is likely to be a shortage of fabricators locally due to them retiring.

Learners enrol in the Level 3 Engineering Fabrication programme at the provider’s site. The provider offers core skills in health and safety, tool use, and employability skills and other learning relevant to the programme. The provider then arranges a “pathway to work” where the learner is employed (and a relevant employment agreement is signed) and is supported to continue with their programme as outlined in formal agreements signed by the learner, provider and employer.

A provider staff member is allocated as a mentor to learners in the work-based: pathway to work mode, and visits regularly.

After the work-based: pathway to work period has finished, the learning shifts to the work-based mode. As part of their commercial agreement, the provider has already determined with the employer what assessment evidence is suitable for final assessments, and made sure the assessment evidence and activities comply with the NZQA requirements for the programme. For example, production logs and low reject or re-work tallies are suitable evidence of competence.

The learner continues under the work-based mode with the programme of training/learning until they complete all the requirements of that programme.