VET in New Zealand – reform, constitution and innovation

Vocational education and training (VET) in New Zealand is currently undergoing a radical change. The current reform (ROVE), which began in 2019, has not yet been completed. A key measure was the foundation of the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (Te Pūkenga), which divides the nation’s 16 polytechnics into four regional centres and extends their role in the field of basic education and training. The study analyses VET structures in New Zealand and the economy’s view on how they are organised.

A woman on a road crew operates a stop sign at a hazard area on a rural road in Canterbury, New Zealand
Adobe Stock/Sheryl

New Zealand urgently requires specialists in various occupational fields. However, until now vocational training – in terms of its equivalent to the Swiss apprenticeship - is placed at level 4 in the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Apprenticeships are primarily available in the trades and construction industry. This is set to change with the intention that VET programmes will include more workplace or work-integrated learning. A national reform of the VET system and the associated extensive reconstitution of the participating institutions represents a huge challenge for all stakeholders in the system. The New Zealand universities have also recognised that more must be done to improve the employability of their graduates and the first work-integrated programmes or courses have been developed. The trend towards more real work experience in the context of tertiary-level education continues.

In view of the VET reform and consequent changes, the following research questions were defined in collaboration with researchers from New Zealand.

  • How is the governance of New Zealand’s VET system structured?
  • How is learning coordinated between host companies, vocational schools and branch training centres? How can practical and theoretical learning be better aligned?
  • To what extent are technologies being used to improve flexibility and achieve a better combination of work and learning?
  • What are the attitudes and beliefs of the people involved in the system about the future structure of VET in New Zealand?

Based on the data acquired, a comparative analysis will be carried out on the topics opportunities and risks of the VET reform, governance of VET in Switzerland and New Zealand, attitudes, values and beliefs of stakeholders regarding strengthening apprenticeships, training and continuing education of teaching staff, and the research landscape on the topic in both countries.


Information about the reform and consequent restructuring of the VET system will be obtained by means of qualitative, semi-structured interviews. Interview partners are apprentices, instructors, teaching staff and management at polytechnics, representatives of sector organisations and education authorities, instructors and training managers in host companies, government representatives and academics. The interviews will be transcribed and evaluated and analysed with academics from New Zealand.