Vocational Pathways help students see how their learning is valued in the workplace by aligning assessment standards that can count towards with six industries. They help educators, families, whānau and employers work in partnership with young people to support them to build on their skills and talents and find work they have a passion for.
The Vocational Pathways divide the working world into six broad sectors which are linked to standards and qualifications. This enables students to map where they are now and where they would like to be.
The six pathways are:
Vocational Pathways were developed to support young people in their transition from education to employment. Issues we found that needed addressing included:
- Students engage more in learning when they could see its relevance to their lives.
- The majority of learners in New Zealand don’t go to university, and most curriculum choices focus on the minority that do.
- Employers wanted to understand more about education, and vice versa, but the language used in both sectors doesn’t always help the connection.
Launched in 2019, the purpose of this award is to celebrate the achievement of secondary students enrolled in vocational programmes, and to raise the status of vocational education so that more people see vocational education and training as an attractive option when they leave school.
The award rewards the top Year 12 or 13 secondary student enrolled in vocational programmes of learning with a $2,000 monetary prize. One student is eligible per school or wharekura.
Learn more about the award and nomination
The Vocational Pathways were developed through a partnership between the Ministry of Education and the Industry Training Federation.
Government agencies, the industry training sector, secondary and tertiary representatives, and industry and employer representatives worked together to develop the six Vocational Pathways to create a “learning to earning map” as the foundation of the journey from education to employment.
A sector consortia group was formed for each Vocational Pathway. Each group, in consultation with their sectors and with broader education and employment agencies, decided which standards would be recognised as recommended or sector related. They wrote the descriptions for that sector and, in consultation with Careers NZ, decided on the jobs selected for that pathway.
Five Vocational Pathways for NCEA levels 1 and 2 were launched in April 2013, with Creative Industries, the sixth pathway, launched in July 2014. The level 3 Vocational Pathway was added in December 2015.
Students, family and whānau
Vocational Pathways are for students, family, and whānau to map their continuous journey of learning and earning. Using the Vocational Pathways they can:
- identify pathways to achieve the skills and competencies valued by employers
- find out their job or career options
- find out which standards are valued by employers within each pathway
- build their own Vocational Profile to plan and track their achievement
- show how they are progressing towards achieving NCEA level 2
- identify university subjects that would fit well with their pathway
Vocational Pathways assist educators in planning, designing and delivering contextualised learning programmes that provide students with the foundational knowledge and skills identified by employers as essential in six broad sectors of industry. They also support the development of competencies valued in general education.
In addition, Vocational Pathways provide educators with accurate information to help their students develop their own pathways towards future employment.
To achieve a Vocational Pathways Award students must first gain NCEA level 2 (60 credits from level 2 and 20 credits from any other level – 80 credits in total – 10 of which must satisfy the literacy requirements and 10 of which must satisfy the numeracy requirements).
To get a Vocational Pathways award a minimum of 20 level 2 credits must be from sector related standards, with the remaining from recommended standards to make up a total of 60 pathway credits.
The Vocational Pathways Awards(s) will show on a student’s NZQA Record of Achievement. This can be a real advantage when young people look for work and training opportunities in a sector that is highlighted in their award.
All level 1 standards and level 3 standards mapped to Vocational Pathways are recommended.
At level 2 there is an additional category for the Vocational Pathways Award. Some recommended standards are also known as sector-related. These are the standards that more closely align to a particular Vocational Pathway and require development of knowledge and skills from, or direct experience in, an industry setting.
To gain NCEA level 2 with a Vocational Pathways Award, 60 level 2 credits are required from the selection of standards from at least one Vocational Pathway. Of the 60 credits, at least 20 must be from the sector-related standards.
You can use this tool to see the recommended and sector-related standards for the six Vocational Pathways.
Vocational Pathways Assessment Standards
- The Award helps employers assess how potential employees’ skills align with their requirements.
- The Award helps young people to see where the skills and knowledge they have gained are valued in jobs, tertiary courses, and possible careers.
- The Award helps parents, families, whānau, and aiga to see where the skills and knowledge their children have gained are valued in jobs, tertiary courses, and possible careers.
Young people can access their Record of Achievement by logging into NZQA and they can show their individual profiles to potential employers.
The Profile Builder helps young people to explore and plan their study options. They can see which Vocational Pathway(s) their credits (or the standards they are thinking of taking) fall into and think about where they would like to go.
Educators can also use this tool to plan learning programmes that align to Vocational Pathways and support young people to achieve a Vocational Pathways Award.
The Vocational Pathways are updated annually, to show the standards and qualifications that are expiring and when they will no longer count towards a Vocational Pathways Award, and to show newly registered standards and qualifications mapped to Vocational Pathways.
The level 3 Vocational Pathways map level 3 achievement standards that can lead to NCEA level 3 and University Entrance to six broad industries. They help students:
- make informed choices about their study options for NCEA level 3, related to the type of work or career they wish to pursue
- who return to school to make informed choices about their next steps
- think about the links between more generic school-based education at level 3 and more specific vocational qualifications at level 3 and how these may be blended to achieve an NCEA level 3 that supports their pathway
- studying towards NCEA level 3, both those that are and are not intending to go to tertiary study, with clearer options about pathways.