Reform of vocational education

In 2020, the government implemented reforms of the vocational education sector to create a strong, unified, sustainable vocational education system that is fit for the future of work and delivers the skills that learners, employers and communities need to thrive. It became known as the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) project.

NZQA and the reform

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is responsible for maintaining the New Zealand Qualifications and Credentials Framework and ensuring that New Zealand qualifications are trusted and serve the needs of learners and industry.

The reform of vocational education has created a strong foundation for a vocational education system which is more responsive to the needs of learners and employers, with improved consistency of graduate outcomes and enabling greater learner mobility.

NZQA has been working in four areas to support the goals of the reform:

Simplifying the design of vocational qualifications

Three key education products are designed to meet New Zealand's present and future skill needs.

Skill standards

These are the building blocks of vocational qualifications. Using skill standards as building blocks across the system will help learners move between different modes of study - workplace, online and on-campus learning - and between providers and regions.

New Zealand Programmes

New Zealand Programmes incorporate skill standards and define the context, structure and information needed for teaching and assessment within a specific qualification. A New Zealand Programme may be developed when an industry wants  to ensure there is a consistent approach to what and how learners learn, and how they are assessed.


Micro-credentials certify achievement of a coherent set of skills and knowledge. They are smaller than a qualification and may include skill standards. Micro-credentials may be used for reskilling or upskilling, addressing emerging or urgent skill needs, or providing a foundation or pathway into further study. Some micro-credentials may stack towards qualifications.

You can read more about education products on our Simplifying the design of vocational qualifications page.

Supporting the establishment of Te Pūkenga and six Workforce Development Councils

The reform of vocational education led to:

  • The disestablishment of Industry Training Organisations (ITOs)
  • The creation of six Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) now responsible for some of the functions of former ITOs
  • The creation of Te Pūkenga - The New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) consisting of 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics and 9 ITOs, now as one institution
  • A Unified Funding System (UFS) to fund the delivery of vocational education and training.

Te Pūkenga

Workforce Development Councils

Tertiary Education Commission

NZQA has supported the new education organisations and focused on the smooth transfer of standard setting and arranging training functions. Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) became Transitional Industry Training Organisations (TITOs) and their functions transferred to WDCs, Te Pūkenga and other providers. This was done in a staged approach to minimise the impact on learners or industry.

For more information on the transition of TITO programmes to PTEs please see our Guidelines and forms page.

Reviewing and updating the quality assurance framework

Because of the changes to the design of vocational qualifications and the introduction of new organisations, NZQA is adapting its approach to quality assurance.

We reviewed the quality assurance framework in 2022 and identified areas to be redesigned. This work is ongoing.

Updating internal NZQA systems to support the delivery of new education products and organisations

NZQA is currently updating its internal systems to support the delivery of new education products and new education organisations.

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