Vocational Pathways Award and Assessment Standards

The Level 2 Vocational Pathways Award

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

To receive a Vocational Pathways Award a student must achieve NCEA Level 2. The requirements for NCEA and the Vocational Pathways Award are set out below.

Requirements for NCEA Level 2

80 credits, of which:

  • a minimum of 60 credits are at level 2
  • and the other 20 credits are from level 1 or another level; and
  • include literacy and numeracy credits at level 1 or above.

Literacy requirement

A minimum of 10 credits through either:

Numeracy requirement

A minimum of 10 credits through either:

Requirements for a Vocational Pathways Award

At level 2 a Vocational Pathways Award may be awarded if a student achieves 60 level 2 credits from the Recommended assessment standards for a Vocational Pathway sector, including at least 20 credits from the Sector-related standards for the same sector.

All standards included in particular Vocational Pathways are Recommended. A sub-set of these Recommended standards are also identified as Sector-Related. It is recommended that in the development of a learning programme there is sufficient broad foundational learning to enable progression to level 4 and above.

For more information about the difference between Recommended and Sector-Related, please refer to the FAQ: What is the difference between Sector Related and Recommended Standards at Level 2?

Note: If you don't gain a Vocational Pathways award within one year you can continue to work towards it the following year(s) as long are you are still working towards NCEA Level 2. 

NCEA graphic update


Other forms of recognition of achievement

As with any NCEA qualification, a student gaining a Vocational Pathways Award may also gain a certificate of endorsement or a course endorsement.

NCEA L2 Achieved

Course Endorsement

Students will gain an endorsement for a course, if, in a single {school} academic year, they achieve:

  • 14 or more credits at Merit or Excellence and at least 3 of these credits are from externally-assessed standards, and 3 credits from internally-assessed standards.

Note: This does not apply to physical education, religious studies, and level 3 visual arts.

Certificate Endorsement

If a student gains 50 credits at Excellence, their NCEA will be endorsed with Excellence.

Likewise, if a student gains 50 credits at Merit (or Merit and Excellence), their NCEA will be endorsed with Merit.

Assessment Standards

Assessment Standards

This is the collective word used to describe all quality assured unit and achievement standards. Each standard describes what a candidate who has achieved the standard knows and can do. Both unit and achievement standards carry a number of credits. Candidates who achieve the standards gain credits which are recorded on the centrally managed Record of Achievement.

Unit Standards

These are developed by ITOs and by two NZQA units, the National Qualifications Services and Māori Qualifications Services.

Achievement Standards

These are developed by the Ministry of Education and derived from the achievement objectives of The New Zealand Curriculum, 2007.

Vocational Pathways Standards listing

To access a list of the assessment standards that have been selected for inclusion in the Vocational Pathways, see the Standards listing tool (below) or download the standards spreadsheets here

Vocational Pathways Standards Tool

Here’s a list of the assessment standards that are recognised in the 6 Vocational Pathways. 

You don’t need to do all of these standards BUT if you gain enough credits from the recommended standards then you can be more confident that you are gaining the right skills and competencies that are important to employers in these sectors. 

The advantage of meeting NCEA literacy and numeracy requirements and gaining enough recommended standards in a pathway is that it will then be recognised as your VP and you can start looking for work and training opportunities in this sector.

Select a pathway and then choose a level to see the mapped standards.