Profile & Trends 2009: New Zealand's Tertiary Education Sector

Publication Details

This is edition 12 in an annual series on the tertiary education sector. Key findings from the 2009 report are:

  • 469,000 students were enrolled in formal study programmes in 2009, including 43,500 international students. There were 202,000 industry trainees in 2009.
  • Young tertiary students are studying at a more advanced level. More than three out of four young tertiary students are now studying level 4 qualifications and above.
  • International tertiary student numbers increased by more than 9 percent in 2009. In 2010, international enrolments are expected to increase by about 8 percent, while domestic enrolments are expected to increase slightly.
Short articles on the following topics are included in Profile & Trends 2009: Participation in post-compulsory education following decreases in New Zealand’s economic activity, What do students earn after their tertiary education, Raising the literacy, language and numeracy of the adult population, Progression to, and success in, bachelors-level study, Adults in non-formal and formal learning, and Students who had a disability

Author(s): Tertiary Sector Performance Analysis and Reporting, Ministry of Education

Date Published: August 2010

Workplace-based learning

Government and industry aim to reduce long-term skills shortages in New Zealand’s key industries and improve labour productivity.  The industry training system is an important means of achieving these goals.  Supported by continuous funding increases, the number of industry trainees increased steadily between 2003 and 2008.  While the weak labour market in 2009 put an end to this level of growth, the total number of learners participating in industry training continued to increase, reaching almost 202,000.

A number of industries with trainees appear to have been negatively affected by the weak labour market in 2009, but this was not the case for all industries, some of which expanded their trainee numbers. Industries where trainee participation grew rapidly include the real estate, retail and equine industries. Plastics and materials processing; sport turf; sport, fitness and recreation; community support services; social services; and community and support services industries also had more industry trainees in 2009 than in 2008.

To enter the industry training system, a person must have a job.  When the New Zealand economy contracted in 2008 and early 2009, an increase in unemployment followed and this has had an impact on trainee numbers in some industries.

Industry training organisations with substantial declines in the number of trainees in 2009 include local government, building service contracting, creative trades, aviation, tourism and travel, building and construction, and engineering, food and manufacturing.  A preliminary analysis of the flows of learners starting and leaving training each year shows that, while new learners entered training in 2009 at a rate comparable overall with preceding years, the proportion of learners leaving without completing their training programme was higher than in previous years. This may be because of job losses occurring during the year. Participants aged 15 to 19 years at the start of their training contract left in this way in relatively higher numbers than older learners, reflecting higher unemployment in younger age groups. The number of employers involved in industry training also fell in 2009.

The Modern Apprenticeships scheme, a part of industry training, experienced a growth plateau in 2009, following five years of strong growth. This was driven by a combination of fewer new apprentices starting training compared with the total number of apprentices active in each year, and a greater proportion leaving without completing a qualification compared with previous years.  Industries were affected differently in 2009 – in most industries new starts in proportion to the total number of apprentices dropped in 2009 compared with 2008 but the retail, horticultural and extractive industries were exceptions to this. Modern apprentices leaving without completing their training programmes increased proportionally in most industries.  Industries that were exceptions included aviation, tourism and travel, creative trades, electrotechnology, forest industries, and joinery.  There were over 12,000 apprentices at December 2009.

Gateway, established in 2001 to broaden educational options for senior school students by offering them workplace-based learning, has continued to expand. Over 10,800 secondary school students participated in Gateway in 2009.

A number of government initiatives were in development in 2009, each with the potential to further expand the role and importance of workplace-based learning. In April 2009, the government announced an extension to the time frame for trainees to find work while still being eligible for government training subsidies, to counter some of the effects of the weak labour market. Trainees who change employers or lose their jobs can now continue their training for 12 weeks, double the previous six-week limit. This gives industry training organisations and apprenticeship coordinators greater opportunity to find trainees a new job.

The Tertiary Education Commission started a review of industry training in 2009, covering areas such as industry training organisations’ finances and the approval of industry training organisations and qualifications. Any operational changes recommended by the review are likely to be implemented progressively.

The first Youth Guarantee learners began their trades-related training during 2009. The Youth Guarantee programme aims to lift the education and skills attainment of teenagers and ensure they stay involved in the education system for longer. The programme’s goal is to see young people in education and skills training of some kind until the age of 18 years, in order to build a stronger base for ongoing learning, including through the many opportunities industry training provides.

The Ministry of Education published two analytical reports on industry training during 2009, providing further participation and completion information on both industry training and Modern Apprenticeships programmes.

Figure 1.4: Participation rates for industry training and provider-based students

Figure 1.4: Participation rates for industry training and provider-based students