Vocational Pathway Awards
What We Have Found
In 2018, thirty percent of school leavers achieved NCEA Level 2 with a Vocational Pathway Award.
Date Updated : October 2019
Number of school leavers who achieved a Vocational Pathway Award.
Why This Is Important
The vocational pathways enable young people to achieve NCEA Levels 1, 2, and 3, and to find out the standards, skills and competencies that are valued by employers in particular sectors that will support young people career pathways.
School leavers who obtained upper-secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary qualifications were more likely to be employed if they had studied in vocational rather than general programmes. (OECD, 2017)
Achieving a Vocational Pathways Award means that students have achieved the standard in a coherent programme that aligns their skills with those that employers are looking for within six broad industry groups:
- Primary Industries
Maintain and assist in laying agricultural/ horticultural drains, perform general servicing checks on a motor vehicle, demonstrate knowledge of farm dairy design, the effluent system, principles of quality systems in the wood manufacturing industries and soil management practices.
- Manufacturing & Technology
Demonstrate understanding of the chemistry used in the development of a current technology, sustainability in design and develop a product design through graphics practice, select test equipment and test an automotive electrical circuit and prevent electrostatic damage to electronic components.
- Services Industries
Demonstrate understanding of the internal operations of a large business, perform food costing calculations in a commercial hospitality environment and demonstrate knowledge of workplace requirements for employment in a commercial hairdressing salon, products in a retail or distribution environment.
- Creative Industries
Visual or performing arts as artists or technicians, the design and development of products, communications in public relations, film and digital technologies, heritage and cultural advice, and Māori and Pacific culture and identify.
- Social & Community Services
Analyse an adolescent health issue and issues related to the provision of food for people with specific food needs, and it applies sequences and series in solving problems and applies a social responsibility model in physical activity, investigate biological material at the microscopic level.
- Construction and Infrastructure
Implement basic procedures using resistant materials to make a specified product, demonstrate understanding of basic concepts related to machines, advanced concepts related to structural frameworks and perform measurements and calculations used in boat building and perform manual soldering, and de-soldering procedures for electro technology work.
Vocational Pathways are groupings of standards identified by Sector Consortia Groups as relevant to their respective industry group and classified as recommended. A subset of these recommended standards have also been classified as sector related.
To achieve a Vocational Pathways Award, a student must achieve NCEA Level 2 which includes literacy (10 credits) and numeracy (10 credits) at Level 1 or above and 60 NCEA Level 2 credits from the Recommended Assessment Standards for a Vocational Pathways, including 20 Level 2 credits from Sector-Related Standards.
How We Are Going
In 2018, 30.1% (18,939 students) of all school leavers attained NCEA Level 2 with one or more Vocational Pathway Awards. This is a decrease of 4.5 percentage points compared to 2017. The decrease is due to a change in the requirements for Vocational Pathway Awards. From 2018 many generic skills standards at levels 1 and 2 were removed from the Vocational Pathways and many level 1 and 2 standards have either moved to level 3 or have expired and not been replaced.
By award type, the majority of school leavers with a Vocational Pathway Award had achieved a Creative Industries award (62.5% of school leavers who achieved a Vocational Pathway Award), this compares to 29.9% for Service Industries, 7.7% for Manufacturing and Technology, 5.1% for Construction and Infrastructure, 4.3% for Social and Community Services, and 3.7% for Primary Industries.
Figure 1: Distribution of Vocational Pathway Awards by Sector (2018)
Total response ethnicity collection involves counting people who identify with more than one ethnic group in each of these ethnic groups. For the New Zealand total, individuals are counted only once.
School Leavers with at least one Vocational Pathway Award, by ethnicity
Individuals who have achieved more than one award are counted only once. The proportion of European/Pākeha school leavers who attained at least one Vocational Pathway Award in 2018 was 33.9%, which was 2.6 percentage points higher than Asian school leavers (31.3%). The attainment rates for Māori and Pacific school leavers were 22.4% and 22.5% respectively.
This pattern of distribution of attainment by ethnicity is similar to that shown for NCEA Level 2, but the differences between ethnic groups are smaller and Asian school leavers have higher attainment of NCEA Level 2 than European school leavers. This is because more Asian students do alternative assessments (such as Cambridge, International Baccalaureate) to attain the equivalent of NCEA Level 2, only students who gain NCEA Level 2 can complete a vocational pathway.
Figure 2: Percentage of School Leavers with a Vocational Pathway Award (2018)
Distribution of Vocational Pathway Awards, by ethnicity
Creative Industries is the most common award type for all ethnic groups. Of the school leavers with a Vocational Pathway Award, the proportion with the Creative Industries Award ranged from 55.4% (Māori) to 69.4% (Asian). Service Industries were the second most common award, but the pattern of distribution across ethnic groups was the inverse of that for Creative Industries. The proportion of school leavers with a Vocational Pathway Award, whose award was in Service Industries ranged from 21.8% (Asian) to 40.2% (Māori).
Fewer awards were attained across the remaining categories, with 0.6% to 13.7% of school leavers who gained a Vocational Pathway Award gaining these across all ethnic groups. Notably Asian school leavers gained a Manufacturing and Technology award at the highest rate (13.7% of school leavers with a Vocational Pathway Award) and Māori school leavers gained a Primary Industries award at the highest rate (5.4%). The ethnic distribution of Construction and Infrastructure and Social and Community Services awards was more even.
Figure 3: Distribution of Vocational Pathway Awards, by ethnicity (2018)
Māori Medium Education
Of the 15,398 Māori students who left school in 2018, 4.1% of them were learning in Māori Medium Education (MME)1when they left school. This proportion has increased 0.8 percentage points in last year.
In 2018, 37.4% of Māori school leavers from MME attained NCEA Level 2 with one or more Vocational Pathway Awards, down 1.8 percentage points from 2017. The proportion of Māori school leavers from English Medium Education (EME) who achieved NCEA Level 2 with one or more Vocational Pathway Awards was down 4.7 percentage points from 2017 to 21.7%. The proportion of Māori school leavers attaining NCEA Level 2 with one or more Vocational Pathway Awards in MME has been higher than that of total school leavers since 2015.
Figure 4: Percentage of school leavers with a Vocational Pathway Award by education type (2009-2018)
Of the Māori school leavers with a Vocational Pathway Award, Learners2in Māori Medium education (MME) have high rates of attainment in Creative Industries Award. In 2018, 81.9% of Māori school leavers from MME had achieved a Creative Industries Award, compared to 53.4% of Māori school leavers from EME. Māori school leavers from MME and EME have similar proportion attaining in Service Industries Awards (38.2% and 40.3% respectively).
Fewer awards were attained across the remaining categories by Māori school leavers from both MME and EME.
Figure 5: Distribution of Vocational Pathway Awards, by education type (2018)
Female school leavers achieved a Vocational Pathway Award (35.9%) at a rate 11.4 percentage points higher than their male counterparts (24.5%). For both genders, the Vocational Pathway Award achieved most frequently was Creative Industries (64.5% of females and 59.7% of males).
Across all Vocational Pathway Award types there was a distinct gender difference in the type of award achieved. A higher proportion of females than males with a Vocational Pathway Award achieved it in Creative Industries (64.5% compared to 59.7%), Service Industries (34.6% compared to 23.1%) and Social & Community Services (6.4% compared to 1.3%). A higher proportion of males than females with a Vocational Pathway Award achieved it in Construction and Infrastructure (10.4% of males compared to 1.3% of females), Manufacturing and Technology (16.2% compared to 1.7%) and Primary Industries (5.4% compared to 2.5%).
Figure 6: Distribution of Vocational Pathway Awards, by gender (2018)
A positive correlation can be seen between the socio-economic mix of the school the student attended and the percentage of school leavers achieving one or more Vocational Pathway Awards.
In 2018, 38.5% of students from schools in the highest deciles (deciles 9 and 10) left school with NCEA Level 2 also have a Vocational Pathway Award. This was 20.2 percentage points higher than the lowest two deciles (18.4%). However, a great deal of variation among schools within each decile, with some schools in the lowest deciles with a greater proportion of students leaving school with a Vocational Pathway Award than some schools in the highest deciles.
Figure 7: Percentage of School Leavers with a Vocational Pathway Award, by decile (2018)
Evidence about what works for this indicator can be found in:
- Alton-Lee, A. (2003). Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
- Anthony, G., and Walshaw, M. (2007). Effective Pedagogy in Mathematics/Pāngarau: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
- OECD (2017). Education at a Glance 2017: OECD indicators. Paris: OECD.
The Ministry of Education has established an Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme to systematically identify, evaluate, analyse, synthesise and make accessible, relevant evidence linked to a range of learner outcomes. Please visit BES (Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis) Programme to find out more.
- Māori Medium Education is where students are taught all or some curriculum subjects in the Māori language for at least 51 percent of the time (Māori Language Immersion Levels 1-2).
- Learners included in learning areas analysis do not include school leavers with international qualifications, or leavers who attended schools where a mix of NCEA and International assessment were offered.
Where To Find Out More
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