Last updated: 29 October 2019

In February, Minister Chris Hipkins announced proposed sweeping reforms to the entire vocational education system, aimed at creating a stronger, more unified, and sustainable vocational education system.

In August, and following a period of public consultation, these reforms were largely confirmed to proceed.

Key Changes

  • Industry Training Organisations (11) will be disestablished
  • The 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) will be merged into a single NZ Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST), and will assume responsibility for supporting workplace-based (on-job) training
  • Between 4 – 7 Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) will be established, and will assume responsibility for skills leadership and standard setting
  • Unified funding system, that funds all provider-based education and all industry training (levels 2-7)


These reforms represent a generational change, and their implementation is intentionally over a long timeframe to minimise disruption, and ensure success of the new system.

  • April 2020 – legislation passed, NZIST created (with ITP’s becoming subsidiaries), first WDC established
  • June 2021 – all WDCs established and operational
  • Dec 2022 – transition of workplace-based training from ITOs to NZIST (or other providers) completed

To support these timelines, education officials’ initial priority is around determining the shape and functions of WDCs, with the focus then shifting to transition arrangements.

Minister Hipkins has highlighted on many occasions that these new Workforce Development Councils must be industry led, and also provided reassurance that workplace-based learning will absolutely continue in the new system, and would like to see it expand.

Establishment of Workforce Development Councils (WDCs)

Between 16 and 22 October, we ran stakeholder consultation meetings and webinars to gather feedback on how WDCs could work with industry, its coverage, functions and governance. 

If you missed the meetings, please find the workshop presentation and webinar recording below.

WDC workshop presentation


Watch the webinar recording:

Summary of the feedback from workshops on the coverage and governance options for Workforce Development Councils

Summary of feedback submitted to TEC

WDC survey results


For more information about the reforms, go to 

You may also email  for any questions or feedback.

What does this all mean for Careerforce employers & trainees?

In the short to medium term, very little. The Minister has absolutely affirmed his commitment to workplace-based training, highlighting a ‘gravitational pull’ in this direction. He furthermore committed to long transition timeframes, with the initial priority being the establishment of the new NZIST and WDCs. He also emphasised his expectation for workplace based training to grow during the transition, and actively encouraged employers to continue to engage in training, in the comfort that transitions will be very carefully managed.

What’s next

These reforms represent a generational change in vocational education, and we will be working closely with officials over coming months to jointly develop the reform implementation plans. Transition timeframes will vary across each ITO, and we will continue to provide you with regular updates, but can’t emphasise enough in the meantime that transition timeframes are long (over three years), and we should all continue with business as usual.

More information

For further information on the decisions, please go to the Ministry of Education website.

You may also wish to download the following documents:

What the reforms mean for employers

What the reforms mean for trainees

If you have any questions, please contact your Workplace Advisor or email us at