Vocational Pathway Awards

What We Have Found

The percentage of school leavers who achieved NCEA Level 2 with a Vocational Pathway Award in 2017 has increased to 34.4%, an increase of 1.4 percentage points since 2016.

Date Updated : September 2018

Indicator Description

Number of school leavers who achieved a Vocational Pathway Award.

Why This Is Important

Building a productive and competitive economy is a Government priority and achievement in education is essential to this goal.  Education helps New Zealanders develop the skills needed to reach their full potential and contribute to the economy and society.

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
  • Manufacturing and Technology
  • Service Industries
  • Creative Industries
  • Social and Community Services
  • Construction and Infrastructure

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 first achieve NCEA Level 2, and have gained 60 NCEA Level 2 credits from standards classified as recommended for the pathway. A minimum of 20 of these must be from sector related standards.

How We Are Going

In 2017, 34.4% (21,832 students) of all school leavers attained NCEA Level 2 with one or more Vocational Pathway Awards.  This is an increase of 1.4 percentage points since 2016. Female school leavers were more likely to attain a Vocational Pathway Award than their male counterparts.  When looking at ethnicity, European/Pākeha students had the highest proportion of school leavers with one or more Vocational Pathway Awards, followed by students from other ethnicities.  As with NCEA Level 2, a prerequisite for an award, Māori and Pacific had the lowest rates of attainment, but this difference was less marked than for NCEA Level 2.

By award type, the majority of school leavers with a Vocational Pathway Award had achieved a Creative Industries award (60.0% of school leavers who achieved a Vocational Pathway Award), this compares to 31.7% for Service Industries, 8.0% for Manufacturing and Technology, 5.3% for Construction and Infrastructure, 4.9% for Primary Industries, and 5.2% for Social and Community Services.

Figure 1: Distribution of Vocational Pathway Awards by Sector (2017)

Ethnic Group

Total response ethnicity 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. European/Pākeha school leavers had the highest proportion attaining at least one Vocational Pathway Award in 2017 (38.3%), which was 4.0 percentage points higher than Asian school leavers (34.3%). Māori and Pacific school leavers had the lowest attainment rates of 26.5% and 27.2% respectively.

This pattern of distribution of attainment by ethnicity is similar to that shown for NCEA Level Two, but the differences between ethnic groups are smaller and Asian school leavers have higher attainment of NCEA Level 2 than European school leavers.

Figure 2: Percentage of School Leavers with a Vocational Pathway Award (2017)

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 50.5% (Māori) to 71.3% (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 21.2% (Asian) to 43.9% (Pacific).

Fewer awards were attained across the remaining categories, with 0.6% to 13.5% 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 (12.5% of school leavers with a Vocational Pathway Award) and Māori school leavers were gained a Primary Industries award at the highest rate (7.7%). 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 (2017)

Gender

Female school leavers (40.5%) achieved a Vocational Pathway Award at a rate 12.0 percentage points higher than their male counterparts (28.5%).  For both genders, of those who achieved a Vocational Pathway Award, the award achieved by the highest proportion of leavers was Creative Industries (62.6% of females and 56.3% 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 (62.6% compared to 56.3%), Service Industries (36.8% compared to 24.7%) and Social & Community Services (7.6% compared to 2.0%).  A higher proportion of males than females with a Vocational Pathway Award achieved it in Construction and Infrastructure (10.7% of males compared to 1.5% of females), Manufacturing and Technology (16.8% compared to 1.6%) and Primary Industries (7.3% compared to 3.1%).

Figure 4: Distribution of Vocational Pathway Awards, by gender (2017)

Age

The earlier a learner leaves school the less likely they are to attain a Vocational Pathway Award.  Most learners need to stay in school until they are 17-years-old to successfully complete NCEA level 2; one of the criteria for achieving a Vocational Pathway Award.

In 2017, 16.5% of school leavers left school before they turned 17 (up from 15.7 percent in 2016).

Of those who left the school system in 2017 before they reached their 17th birthday, 7.5% had achieved a Vocational Pathway Award, compared to 39.7% of those who left school aged 17 or over. Those who left school before aged 17 who did obtain a Vocational Pathway Award were most likely to have achieved it in Service Industries (36.1%), followed by Creative Industries (29.5%).

Among school leavers who achieved a Vocational Pathway Award, the proportion of students who achieved particular pathways also varied with age.  A higher proportion of those who left before age 17 had achieved a Construction & Infrastructure, Manufacturing & Technology, Primary Industries, and Service Industries Vocational Pathway Award.

Figure 5: Distribution of Vocational Pathway Awards, by age (2017)

Decile

Decile provides a measure of the socio-economic status of a school’s student body: the lower a school’s decile is, the lower their school community’s socio-economic status is. There is a clear relationship between school decile and the proportion of school leavers achieving one or more Vocational Pathway Awards.

Students from schools in the highest deciles (deciles 9 and 10) are 1.8 times more likely to leave school having achieved a Vocational Pathway Award, than students in the lowest deciles (1 and 2).

Of the students leaving school with NCEA Level 2 from the lowest decile schools, 24.5% also have a Vocational Pathway Award, compared to 43.0% of school leavers with NCEA Level 2 from the highest decile schools.

There is, 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 6: Percentage of School Leavers with a Vocational Pathway Award, by decile (2017)

References

Evidence about what works for this indicator can be found in:


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.

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