Workforce Development Councils to lead a stronger industry voice

  • Hon Chris Hipkins

Six industry-led Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) will be established to provide industry with greater leadership across vocational education and training, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

The selection and make-up of the WDCs is a key decision in the reform of vocational education.

“These new WDCs will ensure industry takes the lead in making sure learners develop the skills they need to be ready for the world of work,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

“The areas of coverage for the six WDCs will be:

  • Construction and Infrastructure
  • Primary Industries
  • Service Industries
  • Health, Community and Social Services
  • Manufacturing, Engineering, Logistics and Technology, and
  • Creative, Cultural and Recreation.

“The WDCs group industries and sectors logically and are based on the business community’s favoured model and the way that secondary schools think about vocational education. 

“Combined, they cover most of the industries that employ around two and a half million people in half a million businesses across New Zealand,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Once established, the WDCs will take over some of the key functions of the current Industry Training Organisations (ITOs). These include ensuring training qualifications meet industry standards and that courses that are taught are relevant and up to date.

“Unless a training or education programme has the confidence of industry through its representation on a WDC it won’t be approved or funded.

“The other current role of ITOs – the responsibility for day-to-day support for apprenticeships and other on-the-job training – will shift from ITOs to the Institute of Skills & Technology and other providers such as wānanga and private training establishments.”

Chris Hipkins said the Government had been tasked by industry to move quickly to establish the WDCs, to provide sufficient time to plan for the changeover. 

“This is a key decision and follows extensive consultation with industry groups, employers and ITOs since August. It follows industry preference as much as possible.

“In addition to forming more logical groupings, WDCs will bring a number of new industries or sectors not currently covered by ITOs. These industries, which include web and graphic design, fashion, ICT and teacher support qualifications, will now have a powerful industry voice.

“The final coverage areas for WDCs and their names will be agreed though Orders in Council. The current coverage descriptions for each WDC are working titles only, as is the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology” Chris Hipkins said.

Next steps

Commencing early in the new year, the next steps on the establishment process for WDCs include:

  • Further engagement with industry, relevant stakeholders, and industry training organisations on the WDC establishment process.
  • Supporting WDCs to identify their governance arrangements and Board appointment process to ensure good governance arrangements are put in place and that the WDCs represent all industry interests within their area of coverage.
  • Supporting ITOs in their transition by establishing transitional ITOs on 1 April 2020 to maintain current ITO capability until WDCs are established and a provider has taken on their responsibilities for arranging training.

The establishment of WDCs will be enabled by the passing of the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Bill. There will then be a transition period until 31 December 2022, to allow time for functions to transfer to the new WDCs and providers.

“We’ve assured the vocational and education sector that implementing these changes will not be rushed and we will build a phased, gradual transition process to minimise disruption,” Chris Hipkins said.


The final coverage areas for WDCs and their names, below, will be agreed though Orders in Council.

WDC Coverage General Coverage Areas Components from Existing ITOs
Creative, Cultural and Recreation Graphic, creative and web design, game development, museums, libraries and archiving, performing arts, film and music, hairdressing and beauty therapy, communications, recreational facilities/venues and sport
  • Competenz (journalism, graphic design, and signmaking)
  • HITO
  • ServiceIQ (museum)
  • Skills Active
  • Some design, web and animation qualifications currently developed by NZQA
Primary Industries Agriculture, horticulture, fishing, aquaculture, equine, silviculture and harvesting, and sports turf management
  • Competenz (forestry, and biosecurity)
  • Primary ITO (except petrochemicals, energy and chemical plant, seafood processing, dairy processing, and meat processing)
Service Industries Wholesale trade, retail trade, accommodation and food services, tourism, cleaning, rental, hiring/leasing and real estate services, contact centres, business services, and financial services
  • Careerforce (cleaning and caretaking, urban pest management)
  • ServiceIQ (except museum, and aviation)
  • The Skills Organisation (security, contact centres, real estate, and financial services)
  • Business and administrative qualifications currently developed by NZQA
Health, Community and Social Services Health care, social support services, funeral and embalming, offender management, emergency services, and education
  • Careerforce (except cleaning and caretaking, and urban pest management)
  • Funeral ITO
  • The Skills Organisation (a range of community and social services)
  • Education and childcare qualifications developed by NZQA
Manufacturing, Engineering, Logistics and Technology Manufacturing and processing, extractives and drilling, transport (including heavy and commercial), postal, warehousing, engineering, and information and communications technology (development and systems engineering) industries
  • Competenz (except lift and escalator servicing, forestry, biosecurity, journalism, graphic design, and signmaking)
  • MITO
  • Primary ITO (petrochemicals, energy and chemical plant, seafood processing, dairy processing, and meat processing)
  • ServiceIQ (aviation)
  • Some ICT qualifications developed by NZQA
Construction and Infrastructure Construction (including heavy, civil and residential) and associated industries and trades, and infrastructure including water supply, electricity and gas transmission, road and bridge building, and sewage
  • Competenz (lift and escalator servicing)
  • Connexis
  • The Skills Organisation (construction-related industries, e.g. plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying, electrical services, scaffolding, etc.)