Last Updated January 2020

February 2019
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.

August 2019
Following a period of public consultation, these reforms were largely confirmed to proceed.

  • 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 both workplace-based (on-job) training, and classroom-based (off-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)

December 2019
A key part of the reform of vocational education (RoVE) is the establishment of Workforce Development Councils (WDCs), that will assume responsibility for standard setting and qualification development.

*In December 2019 Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, announced that there will be six industry-led Workforce Development Councils, one of which will be for Health, Community & Social Services, which encompasses most of Careerforce’s current coverage. Careerforce currently also has cleaning and urban pest management within its coverage, but the changes announced will see these fall within a Service Industries Workforce Development Council.

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 – Timelines
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, and we should all continue with business as usual.

  • 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

More information
For further information please visit the Ministry of Education website and the TEC website

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