Vocational Pathways

What are the Vocational Pathways?

rosette six pathwaysThe Vocational Pathways provide new ways to achieve NCEA Level 2 – the foundation for success in further education and the world of work. The pathways help students see how their learning and achievement is valued in the ‘real world’ by aligning the NCEA Level 2 Assessment Standards including specific ‘sector-related’ standards with six industries: 

These six pathways represent ways to structure and achieve NCEA Level 2 by providing a more coherent framework for foundational vocational education; students can develop their own individual education plans, are better informed and able to make better choices to meet their goals. 

Government agencies, the industry training sector, secondary and tertiary representatives and industry and employer representatives worked together to develop the six Vocational Pathways for NCEA Level 2 as the foundation of the journey to employment. These groups are now in the process of developing pathways through qualifications achieved in NCEA Level 3 and beyond. 

What is a Vocational Pathways Award?

The award enables employers to assess whether potential employees’ skills align with their industry requirements more easily. 

To receive a Vocational Pathways Award, students must first gain NCEA Level 2, which is 60 credits from Level 2 and 20 credits from any other level; 80 credits in total. 10 of these 80 credits must satisfy the literacy requirements, and 10 of these 80 credits must satisfy the numeracy requirements.To get a Vocational Pathways Award, a minimum of 20 Level 2 credits must be from sector related standards, with the remaining from the recommended standards in one or more pathways to make up 60 pathway credits in total. Please note the 20 sector related credit component is a minimum requirement; it is possible to have all 60 credits from sector related standards.

The following diagram shows this relationship: 

NCEA graphic update

The Vocational Pathways Award(s) will be awarded to students on their NZQA Record of Achievement. This will be a real advantage when they look for work and training opportunities in the sector. 


We have a number of resources to assist you with using Vocational Pathways. These are outlined on this Resources Brochure (PDF, 3.1 Mb) or you can go to our resources page.


There are a range of tools that students can use to help design their future career opportunities and educators can use to help design their programmes:

Profile Builder is a tool that helps students to explore their study options. Students can see where they are heading and think about where they would like to go by inputting the achievement standards they are currently doing or might like to do. 

The tool can also be used to support educators when planning Vocational Pathways programmes and working with students to explore their study options. 

Occupation Outlook 2014 application is designed to help students make well-informed career choices. It provides vital information about study fees, income and job prospects on 50 key occupations in New Zealand. This is a great tool to hook students in to talking about their career options. 

CareerQuest is a great tool that recommends jobs based on students’ actual interests. Students rate their interests in a range of areas from no interest to very interested. The tool then recommends particular jobs based on this data.

Skill Matcher helps students to generate job ideas based on the skills they enjoy/are interested in learning, shows them how their skills could apply to many occupations within New Zealand, and provides them with tips on what steps to take next.

Contact Us

Email your questions and feedback to vocational.pathways@education.govt.nz

Find your network Chief Advisor

Alternatively, please read our FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) for educators and for students, parents and whānau.

More detailed information can be found on our Resources page and on our Students, Employers or Education Providers pages to the left. 

Helpful Links

Careers NZ is an organisation designed to help people make smart decisions about working and learning in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) ensures that New Zealand qualifications are valued as credible and robust both nationally and internationally. Students can view their Vocational Profile on the NZQA website.

TKI is a bilingual portal-plus web community which provides educational material for teachers, school managers, and the wider education community.