New Zealand's Workplace-based Learners

Industry training and other workplace-based trends

New Zealand’s Workplace-Based Learners gives an overview of industry training and other workplace-based learning trends for the year ended December 2019. It focuses largely on industry training and covers the characteristics of learners, the industries they learn in, and what they achieve. It also contains a short overview of Gateway and trades academies.

This information shows performance in industry training, regardless of whether training-related activity was funded by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). As such, these measures may differ to those published by the TEC. For more information on apprenticeship definitions, please refer to the TEC fact sheet.

What does the 2019 data show?

The data for the 12 months to December 2019 shows:

  • The number of  decreased in 2019, but there was an increase in apprentices. The number of trainees decreased by 3.9 percent to 84,675, while apprenticeship numbers increased by 5.9 percent to 53,345. This gives a total of 137,560 industry training learners for 2019, similar to the previous year.
  • Holding post-school qualifications continues to be common for new entrants to industry training. For the 2019 year 58 percent of trainees and 47 percent of apprentices had a prior tertiary qualification
  • The number of trainees completing qualifications decreased, apprentice qualification numbers were stable, and the 5 year completion rate for both groups increased. In 2019, 28,525 trainees completed a qualification, down 11.2 percent on 2018. The proportion of trainees completing a qualification within five years of starting study increased by 3 percentage points to 63 percent. The rate for apprentices also increased by 4 percentage points to 57 percent, reversing the drop seen in 2018.

Who participates?

The overall number of trainees and apprentices in 2019 was 137,560, similar to 2018 with only a 0.2 percent decrease (315 learners). The number of trainees decreased by 3.9 percent (to 84,675), while apprentices increased by 5.9 percent (to 53,445). This continues the decrease in industry training participation seen in recent years, but is a smaller decrease than 2018. While new entrant trainees remained steady, the percentage continuing from the previous year decreased and those exiting with training completed increased which lead to a decrease in trainees overall. The amount of training delivered to trainees (measured in , or STMs) was 4 percent lower than in 2018 (see tables 1 and 2).

The proportion of the workforce participating as trainees decreased slightly to 3.2 percent in 2019 (from 3.3 percent in 2018), while the proportion of the workforce who were apprentices increased slightly to 2.0 percent (from 1.9 percent). The male trainee participation rate was slightly down on 2018 (3.2 percent of the male workforce compared with 3.3 percent in 2018) but was balanced by a slight increase in the female trainee participation rate to 3.3 percent of the female workforce (from 3.2 percent). Participation rates for male apprentices and female apprentices both increased, by 0.2 percent for males (to 3.3 percent) and a slight 0.1 percent increase for females (to 0.6 percent). In 2019, forty-eight percent of trainees and 14 percent of apprentices were women (see figures 1 and 2).

Table 1: Trainees 2014-2019
YearTotalLearners Proportion
Workforce Participation (%) Delivered
2014 99,140 58,275 40,165 41 4.8 3.7 4.3 25,020
2015 105,545 60,935 43,890 42 4.9 3.9 4.5 26,445
2016 105,635 60,190 44,660 43 4.6 3.8 4.3 26,745
2017 99,605 53,700 45,390 46 4.0 3.8 3.9 25,955
2018 88,100 45,775 42,000 48 3.3 3.4 3.3 23,470
2019 84,675 43,485 40,945 48 3.2 3.3 3.2 22,475
Table 2: Apprentices 2014-2019
Workforce Participation (%)Delivered
2014 41,850 36,835 4,900 12 3.0 0.4 1.8 20,145
2015 41,995 37,230 4,650 11 3.0 0.4 1.8 20,050
2016 42,940 38,160 4,680 11 2.9 0.4 1.7 18,995
2017 46,100 40,330 5,670 12 3.0 0.5 1.8 19,810
2018 50,450 43,665 6,700 13 3.1 0.5 1.9 21,450
2019 53,445 46,050 7,295 14 3.3 0.6 2.0 22,830
Figure 1: Trainees by gender 2010-2019

Figure 1: Trainees by gender 2009-2018

Figure 2: Apprentices by gender 2010-2019

Figure 2: Apprentices by gender 2009-2018

Age group

The age split of trainees in 2019 was consistent with 2018 with eight percent of trainees being under 20 years, 16 percent between 20 to 24 years, and 30 percent between 25 to 34 years. However, the trend towards older apprentices continued, with the proportion aged under 25 years decreasing slightly to 46.4 percent (from 47.3 percent in 2018).


Figures 3 and 4 show the proportion of the workforce that are trainees or apprentices, broken down by ethnicity. Trainee participation as a percentage of the workforce decreased across most ethnic groups but was steady for Pacific Peoples in 2019 and rates for Māori and Pacific Peoples remained higher than for other groups. Participation rates for apprentices increased across all ethnic groups with the largest increases for Māori and Pacific Peoples. Participation continues to be highest for apprentices of Māori ethnicity.

Figure 3: Trainee participation by ethnicity 2014-2019

Figure 3: Trainee participation by ethnicity 2013-2018

Figure 4: Apprentice participation by ethnicity 2014-2019

Figure 4: Apprentice participation by ethnicity 2012-2018

Prior Qualifications

A high proportion of industry training learners hold tertiary qualifications gained prior to starting training. Overall, 58.4 percent of trainees and 47.4 percent of apprentices in 2019 already held a tertiary certificate, diploma, or degree (bachelors or above). For both groups this was consistent with 2018. When looking at new entrant apprentices only, the proportion holding a tertiary degree, certificate or diploma was consistent with 2018 at 45.9 percent.

What industries do they participate in?

The industries with the most trainees in 2019 were; healthcare and social assistance (19.3 percent of trainees or 16,325 learners), manufacturing (16.9 percent or 14,350 learners), and retail, trade and accommodation (13.9 percent or 11,765 learners). Construction had the highest number of apprentices (40.3 percent or 21,525 learners), followed by retail, trade and accommodation (13.9 percent or 7,435 learners), and manufacturing (10.7 percent or 5,695 learners) (see figure 5).

Figure 6 shows the proportion of the workforce for each gender undertaking an apprenticeship for the three industries with the greatest numbers of apprentices across the years 2015 to 2019. Female workers have much lower rates of participation in apprenticeships. For example, during the 2019 year 10.1 percent of males working in construction were apprentices compared to 1.6 percent of women. Overall, 3.3 percent of the male workforce were apprentices compared to 0.6 percent of the female workforce.

Figure 5: Distribution of trainees and apprentices by industry 2019

Figure 5: Distribution of trainees and apprentices by industry 2018

Figure 6: Apprenticeship participation by gender 2015-2019, selected industries

Figure 6: Apprenticeship participation by gender 2014-2018

What training activity did learners undertake?

The number of new trainees in 2019 was similar to the previous year at 29,330. The proportion of trainees whose was entering a traineeship also remained consistent at 34.6 percent. The proportion continuing training from a previous year dropped to 23.8 percent, but the proportion that completed training (either entry and completion or exit and completion) increased by three percentage points to 37.8 percent (see figure 7).

In contrast, the proportion of apprentices that were new entrants in 2019 decreased slightly to 25.3 percent (or 13,535 apprentices), from 26.8 percent in 2018. The proportion continuing training from a previous year dropped by nearly 1 percentage point to 45.5 percent, with a complementary 1 percentage point increase in the proportion withdrawing without completion to 15.1 percent. The proportion completing training increased by one percentage points to 16.9 percent (see figure 8).

Figure 7: Proportion of trainees by main activity 2010-2019

 Figure 7: Proportion of trainees by main activity 2009-2018

Figure 8: Proportion of apprentices by main activity 2010-2019

Figure 8: Apprenticeship participation by gender 2019-2018

What qualifications did they achieve?

A total of 9,945 apprentices completed a qualification in 2019, just slightly higher than in 2018. The number of trainees that completed a qualification decreased 11.2 percent (to 28,525).  A total of 29,945 qualifications were awarded to trainees (down from 34,025 in 2018) compared to 11,440 qualifications awarded to apprentices in 2019.

As a consequence of the continued decrease in lower level training, 76.6 percent of the qualifications achieved by trainees were at Level 3 or higher, up from 71.3 percent in 2018. The proportion of qualifications awarded to trainees at Level 1 or Level 2 continues a downward trend to 23.4 percent from 28.7 percent in 2018. Apprenticeship training is generally all at Level 4 or above.

The proportion of trainees completing a qualification, at the intended or higher level, within five years of commencement increased to 63 percent in 2019, up from 60 percent in 2018 (see figure 9). For apprentices, the five year completion rate increased to 57 percent in 2019, reversing the drop seen in 2018 (see figure 10).

Figure 9: Five-year trainee qualification completion rates 2010-2019

Figure 9: Five-year trainee qualification completion rates 2009-2018

Figure 10: Five-year apprentice qualification completion rates 2010-2019

Figure 10: Five-year apprentice qualification completion rates 2009-2018

How many school students took part In Gateway and Trades Academies?

Gateway and trades academies, part of the government’s Youth Guarantee programme, aim to assist school students to gain employment or further training. Learners can earn assessment standards that can contribute towards the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) and other qualifications on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.


The number of learners accessing Gateway programmes in 2019 was slightly lower (0.8 percent) than 2018 (14,095 students). Gateway students achieved 332,055 credits in 2019, an average of 24 per student. This is consistent with previous years.

Trades Academies

The number of students that participated in trades academies increased by 1,410 in 2019 to 8,195 students.

Technical Notes | Background

Forms of industry training:
There are two main forms of workplace-based learning. The most common is industry training, which covers trainees and apprenticeships administered by industry training organisations under the Industry Training and Apprenticeships Act 1992. Traineeships are industry training programmes that do not meet the New Zealand Apprenticeships credit and level criteria. Trainees are often involved in smaller programmes, at lower qualification levels, that suit established workers wanting to update or increase their skills.

presented here are mainly arranged under the Industry Training and Apprenticeships Act 1992. They include: New Zealand Apprenticeships (introduced in 2014); Modern Apprenticeships; and industry training apprenticeship equivalents (study programmes that meet or exceed the New Zealand Apprenticeships criteria, i.e. qualifications at Level 4 or above, consisting of at least 120 credits). The other form of workplace-based learning is administered by tertiary education organisations, such as polytechnics, and is sometimes referred to as ‘Managed Apprenticeships’.

Data Sources:
Most of the statistics on this page are derived from returns provided by government-funded tertiary education organisations to the Tertiary Education Commission. This data may differ from that reported by the Tertiary Education Commission because it is based on all industry training enrolments. It shows counts of both funded and unfunded trainees and apprentices. Data may also be different to that published in previous years because tertiary education providers can submit updates to historical data. Denominator workforce numbers for participation rate calculations were estimated using the Household Labour Force Survey.

- Data has been rounded to the nearest 5 to protect the privacy of individuals, so the sum of individual counts may not add to the total.

Standard training measures:
A standard training measure (STM) is a unit or a quantity of training. One standard training measure is the nominal amount of training that is required for a learner to achieve 120 credits (or its equivalent) in an approved and structured training programme. One credit equals 10 nominal hours of instruction and study.  One standard training measure comprises 120 credits, or 1,200 nominal hours, of instruction and study.

Learners may report multiple ethnicities and so may be counted in more than one ethnic group.  The acronym MELAA refers to Middle Eastern/ Latin American/ African.

Prior Qualifications:
The results reported are estimates based on the distribution of trainees and apprentices whose previous highest qualification was known. For 2019, previous qualification was known for 86 percent of trainees and 92 percent of apprentices.

Training activity:
Training activity is prioritised to entrance and exit activities. Trainees who are continuing training started in a prior year are classified as exiting the system if they leave training in the reference year. Trainees who are continuing their training, but do not leave training in the reference year, are classified as continuing.

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