Post-compulsory education and training


Yearly snapshots of participation in post-compulsory education and training by young people 2015-2018

The intent of these graphics is to provide an indicative annual snapshot of the proportions of young people aged 16 to 24 years participating in different types of education and in work in New Zealand. They illustrate the differences in distribution of young New Zealanders through the education system and the labour market by age, ethnicity and gender at a point in time.

If you are interested instead in research that follows cohorts of school leavers in the years after they leave school, including the proportion that go overseas, or if you want to view the tertiary education indicator for school leaver destinations, see the links under Where to Find Out More.

Below the graphics are notes explaining how survey and administrative data was combined to create the graphics, data sources used and data limitations. There are also definitions for the different activity types.

Key results for 2018:

  • Participation in education appears to be decreasing as more people are employed, especially for 20 to 24 year olds.
  • Participation in education and training differs by gender with a greater proportion of men in employment or industry training than women. Women have higher proportions in other forms of education and higher proportions that are not in employment, education or training (NEET) due to being caregivers.
  • Lower participation in education and training is associated with higher rates of NEET for Māori in the 16 to 19 year age group and for both Māori and Pacific Peoples in the 20 to 24 year age group.

How the graphics were created

The underlying structure of each graphic is based on data from the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). The proportions used are an average of the 4 quarterly results for each year. See Statistics New Zealand for detailed information on the HLFS. The HLFS averages are used to split the population for a particular age or age band into four main groups: (i) in education, (ii) employed (not in education), (iii) not in employment, education or training (NEET) - caregiver, and (iv) NEET - not caregiver.

Once the proportion of each age or age band in education is determined from the HLFS, administrative data from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Development is used to divide up this section into the various education and training options. People can do more than one education or training programme during a year so there will be an element of double counting in the education data.

The use of survey data means that the estimates of what proportion of the population are in the four main groups above are subject to sampling error. The smaller the sample, the larger the error. Data for Māori and Pacific Peoples, in particular, has high sampling error. Therefore, Māori and Pacific Peoples data has been reported in 16 to 19 and 20 to 24 age bands rather than by single year of age.

Because the graphics combine administrative and survey-based data and because of the double counting issue, they should be treated as indicative only.

All counts have been rounded to the nearest 5.



Gateway is designed to support school students’ transition into the workforce by offering them workplace learning while at secondary school. The funding enables secondary schools to give senior students access to structured workplace learning integrated with school-based learning. Students’ learning is assessed in the workplace and they can achieve credits on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) towards their National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA).

Secondary Tertiary Programmes

Secondary-tertiary programmes may be led by either a tertiary education provider or a secondary school. These programmes have a focus on developing skills and providing opportunities for learners to move into employment. The most common programme is trades academies.

Training for Work

The Ministry of Social Development funds a service to support clients into employment through the provision of industry and employment related training that is designed to bring participants’ skills up to the minimum entry level that industry requires with specific job opportunities in mind. The service also covers post placement support for up to 365 days.

Youth Guarantee fees-free funding

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) funds Youth Guarantee fees-free places in institutes of technology and polytechnics, wānanga and NZQA-registered private training establishments for study at levels 1 to 3 of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework. Students must be aged 16 to 19 years at the time of commencing study (or 15 years with an early leaving exemption from school). These places are targeted to young people who have left school without a foundation-level qualification.

Certificates, Diplomas, Degrees and above

These categories relate to Student Achievement Component (SAC) funded tertiary education provision. Funding is allocated by the TEC to universities, polytechnics, wānanga and private training establishments (PTEs). Students may be eligible for student loans and allowances.

Industry Trainees and Apprentices

TEC funds Industry Training Organisations and a few large employers for formal workplace learning for people in employment in the form of apprenticeships and traineeships. Employers also contribute to the cost of training.  Apprenticeships are qualifications at Level 4 or above that consist of at least 120 credits. Trainees are often involved in smaller programmes, at lower qualification levels, that suit established workers wanting to update or increase their skills.

Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET)

NEET is defined as working age people who are not in employment, education, or training. NEET includes both those people who are unemployed (part of the labour force); and those who are not in the labour force, and at the same time, not in education or training. Statistics NZ calculates NEET rates from the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS), further detail on this survey can be found on their website.

Contact Us

For more information about the content on this webpage, please email the:  Tertiary Mailbox