From learning to earning

Achieve NCEA levels 1, 2 and 3 and develop a path that progresses you to further study, training and employment.

Vocational Pathways show what learning the real world values by aligning standards that can be achieved through NCEA with six broad industry groupings. 

The Vocational Pathways have two main purposes:

  • To help students gain a better understanding of how the skills and knowledge gained through NCEA applies to the world of work.
  • To help teachers design programmes that are meaningful and valued by future employers.

How Vocational Pathways can help if you're a student

How Vocational Pathways can help if you’re a teacher

Vocational Pathways Award

There is a Vocational Pathways Award that can be achieved alongside NCEA Level 2. This signals that students have achieved a significant set of NCEA Level 2 standards that align with the knowledge and skills that employers are looking for in a particular Pathway.

All standards included in each Vocational Pathway are recommended. These support a strong foundation of the skills and knowledge valued by industries and employers within each Pathway. Some of these are also identified as ‘sector-related’, which are specific to or drawn from a particular employment sector. The standards in each Pathway have been endorsed by employers.

Once you have 60 credits from the recommended standards, including at least 20 credits from the sector-related ones, your NCEA Level 2 will be endorsed with the relevant Vocational Pathways Award – or Awards. Yes, it is possible to gain more than one Award! 

The six Vocational Pathways

The six Vocational Pathways

Creative Industries - Ahumahi Auaha

If you’re the creative, artistic or sporty type, or have an interest in culture, recreation or digital technology, this could be the Pathway for you. The Creative Industries is a diverse sector full of interesting and exciting opportunities in visual and performing arts, design, digital technologies, the film industry, game development, fashion and beauty, events, and so much more.

creative sml
“I am motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others. I love making something from nothing.”
Primary Industries - Ahumahi Matua

The Primary Industries is all about the food and fibre sector.

Jobs in the food and fibre sector involve hands on work growing and harvesting plants, crops and animals that help feed us and the world. There are many jobs in the farming, horticulture, fisheries, forestry and connected industries that have opportunities for school leavers and for those with an interest in moving into this sector.


Primary v5
“What I enjoy about my current situation is the independence I have and the ability to make decisions.”
Service Industries - Ahumahi Ratonga

If you’re a people person, this could be the Pathway for you. This diverse industry employs a third of Aotearoa New Zealand’s workforce. Experience in the services industry can help you become a business owner, to take you around the world, and to give you transferable skills to help you progress in a variety of careers in this and other sectors. 

service industries v8
“I love being in a team environment and having customers leave with a smile.”
Social and community services - Ratonga Pāpori, Ratonga Hapori

If you’re a people person this could be the Pathway for you. Careers in this Pathway are all about supporting the community and caring for people in need.

This Pathway includes health, care and disability services, social services, youth services, beauty and nail services, education and education support services, funeral services, civil defence, fire and emergency services, public order safety and urban pest management. All are essential for the well-being and safety of our citizens and careers in them can be truly rewarding. 

“I'm making a difference for future New Zealanders.”
Construction and Infrastructure - Te Mahi Hanga me te Pūtoi Hanganga

If you like working with others, having different tasks every day, and learning by doing stuff yourself, then construction and infrastructure might be perfect for you. Work in this incredibly important industry is varied, rewarding and often physically active. You can take pride in playing your part to build, repair and maintain Aotearoa New Zealand from below the ground up.

construction tall
“I love putting things together and creating. All I ever wanted to do was be involved in building. I get a great mix of onsite activity, being with people, and desk work."
Manufacturing and Technology - Te Whakanao me te Hangarau

This Pathway includes the manufacturing, engineering, and logistics sectors.

This may be the Pathway for you if you like making things work. It covers types of work that ranges from hands-on assembly to cutting-edge research, from busy production lines to using complex scheduling software, and from driving or maintaining all types of vehicles and boats to mining and food processing. These jobs offer opportunities to make new discoveries and a practical difference to the world.

engineer v4
“When I was young I used to help my Dad out at our family business, repairing small engines for lawnmowers, chainsaws – that sort of thing. I knew I wanted to work in a hands-on job.”