Frequently asked questions

Workforce Development Councils Background Information

Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) ensure that the vocational education system meets industry needs and gives a stronger voice to Māori business and iwi development. WDCs will give their industries and employers greater leadership and influence across vocational education.

Success for WDCs will mean employers – including Māori business owners – are confident that vocational education graduates are ready for work and that the future skills needs of their industry will be addressed by the vocational education system.

As well as directly benefiting employers, WDCs will improve confidence and outcomes across the sector. Providers can be confident their programmes are relevant to employers and endorsed by industry. Learners can be confident their qualifications will meet employers’ expectations and national industry standards.

WDCs were stood up on October 04 2021, through the Reform of Vocational Educaton (RoVE) (external link).

Each WDC will work with industry and employers to understand the skills that are needed. This information will be passed to education and training providers, who will be expected to create learning programmes that will give people relevant skills to address future workforce needs.

WDCs will lead the development of industry qualifications, they will set industry standards and assess training provision against these industry standards. Where appropriate, WDCs will set and help with capstone assessments at the end of a qualification. Industry standards will be consistently applied across the country, and across all modes of learning, whether on the job (such as apprenticeships), on campus or online.

WDCs will also endorse vocational education programmes prior to them being approved by NZQA.

As well as engaging with industry and employers, each WDC will work collaboratively across the vocational education sector. WDCs will engage with Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs), Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) and Providers (Te Pūkenga, Wānanga and Private Training Establishments (PTEs)).

WDCS will also engage with a range of parties to help inform and prioritise their service delivery. These include the Ministry of Education (MoE), Advocacy Groups, Learners, Te Taumata Aronui, Government agencies and schools.

The key functions of WDCs are set out in Section 366 of the Education and Training Act 2020.

These functions are:

  • to provide skills and workforce leadership for the specified industries, including by identifying their current and future needs and advocating for those needs to be met through its work with the industries and with schools, providers, regional bodies, and the Government:
  • to develop, set, and maintain skill standards:
  • to develop and maintain industry qualifications for listing on the Qualifications Framework and to maintain qualifications for which it has become the qualifications developer:
  • to develop and maintain training schemes:
  • to develop and maintain training packages:
  • to develop, set, and maintain capstone assessments based on the needs of the specified industries:
  • to decide whether to endorse programmes developed by providers:
  • to carry out moderation activities in relation to any standards and capstone assessments it sets:
  • to provide employers with brokerage and advisory services approved by TEC:
  • to advise TEC about its overall investment in vocational education and training and the mix of vocational education and training needed for the 1 or more specified industries covered by the workforce development council in the manner required by TEC:
  • to represent the interests of the specified industries
  • to perform any other functions conferred on it by the Minister in relation to the specified industries.
  • For the purposes of subsection (1)(g), the Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, specify criteria relating to when a workforce development council must endorse a programme before it may be approved by NZQA under section 439(external link).

Expectations about the way WDCs will work are set out in section 369 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link).

In performing their functions, WDCs must take into account the needs of employers and employees in the industries covered by their WDC; we must also consider national and regional interests. WDCs are also expected to collaborate with providers – including wānanga – other WDCs and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

As a priority WDCs must have regard for the needs of Māori and other population groups identified in the Tertiary Education Strategy(external link). We must also comply with any agreed quality assurance requirements set by NZQA relating to the performance of our functions.

Hanga-Aro-Rau (Manufacturing, Engineering and Logistics) Workforce Development Council represents industries including Manufacturing, Processing, Extractives and Drilling, Transport (including heavy and commercial), Postal, Warehousing and related engineering.

Muka Tangata (People, Food and Fibre) Workforce Development Council represents industries including Dairy, Sheep and Beef, other livestock, Arable, Horticulture, Fishing, Seafood Processing, Winemaking, Aquaculture, Livestock farming, Sports Turf Management, Silviculture & Harvesting.

Ringa Hora (Services) Workforce Development Council represents industries including Advisory Services, Aviation, Cleaning Services, Business Services, Contact Centres, Financial Services, Hospitality, Local Government, Real Estate, Retail, Security Services, State sector, and Tourism & Travel.

Toi Mai Workforce Development Council works with employers, individual earners and volunteers from sectors including Creative, Technology, Entertainment, Hairdressing & Barbering, Makeup Artistry, Skincare, Journalism, Radio & Television Broadcasting, Gambling, and Sports & Recreation.

Toitū te Waiora (Community, Health, Education and Social Services) Workforce Development Council represents industries including Care Services, Disability Services, Education and Educational Support Services, Funeral Services, Health Services, Public Order Safety, Regulatory Services, Skin and Nail Therapy Services, Social Services, and Urban Pest Control.

Waihanga Ara Rau (Construction & Infrastructure) Workforce Development Council represents industries including Construction, Concrete, Plumbing, Infrastructure, Water, Gas, Electricity, Telecommunication, and Roading.

Extensive consultation with industry and the vocational education sector took place prior to WDCs being stood up on 4 October 2021.

The establishment of WDCs was led by WDC Interim Establishment Boards (iEBs) that were made up of industry representatives, many of whom were subsequently appointed to the permanent WDC Council. The main role of iEBs was to oversee the legal establishment of WDCs, which occurred through an Orders in Council (OiC) process.

All six iEBs were responsible for consulting with industry and developing an OiC that outlined the name of their WDC, industries represented, governance arrangements and other core aspects of their WDC. More than 200 people and organisations provided feedback on the draft OiCs. This engagement helped ensure WDCs were established in ways that will best meet industry needs.

Once approved by the Minister of Education, OiCs were sent to the Governor-General for signature. On Monday 10 May 2021 Her Excellency the Governor-General, Patsy Reddy, gave Royal Assent, passing in to law, OiCs establishing the six WDCs. The legislation came into effect on 11 June 2021.

No. Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) do not arrange training.  Providers, including Transitional Industry Training Organisations, Te Pūkenga, Private Training Establishments and Wānanga, fulfil this function.

On 1 April 2020, TEC-funded Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) became transitional ITOs (TITOs) to allow their skills standard setting, qualifications development, and moderation and assessment activities to transition to the relevant WDCs and their arranging work-based training activities to transition to providers (Te Pūkenga, Private Training Establishments and Wānanga). WDCs took over TITO functions on 4 October 2021. All arranging training functions must transition from TITOs to providers on or before December 2022.

National External Moderation

Moderation requirements are outlined in the Consent and Moderation Requirements documents. A coversheet has been added to each CMR to identify the relevant WDC(s). More information about CMRs can be found here(external link).

  • Internal moderation. Providers (including schools) must undertake internal moderation. This helps to ensure consistency of assessment within organisations, over time and between assessors.
  • National external moderation. WDCs undertake national external moderation to maintain the consistency of assessment nationally, across all provider types.

Providers required to submit or implement an Action Plan or a Performance Improvement Plan with a TITO will be contacted by a Workforce Development Council to clarify requirements for moderation post 4 October 2021. This may include on-site or post assessment moderation.

We aim to complete a pre-assessment moderation report within 20 working days.

Yes. If assessment materials are modified by the provider then they have to be submitted to the relevant WDC for pre-assessment moderation. Please refer to the relevant CMR for pre-assessment moderation requirements. If you are unsure whether you need to submit materials for pre-assessment moderation, contact the relevant WDC.

Material that has been pre-assessment moderated by a TITO and is unchanged will be recognised as having met the CMR requirements. However, if assessment materials are modified by the provider then they have to be submitted to the relevant WDC for pre-assessment moderation.

Yes. NZQA is responsible for monitoring the quality and results of WDC systems and procedures for managing national external moderation systems. WDCs report annually to NZQA on moderation outcomes and meet with NZQA to discuss national external moderation matters.

These are principles to ensure there is a common understanding of standard setting body responsibilities. This is in relation to Rule 10.3 of the Directory of Assessment Standards Listing and Operational Rules 2021. The principles also provide a common frame of reference for NZQA’s monitoring WDCs. For more information, please see this link here(external link)

We aim to complete an appeal within 20 working days.

There is no charge for WDC moderation activities, including pre-assessment moderation, on-site moderation and post assessment moderation.

Consent and Moderation Requirements

You can access the CMRs on the NZQA website at this link(external link).

A coversheet has been added to each CMR to identify the relevant WDC(s). More information about CMRs can be found here(external link).

CMRs will be reviewed and rationalised over time. When changes to CMRs are made, WDCs will notify providers and all affected parties.

Consent to Assess

Consent to assess is a process that allows education organisations to assess unit or achievement standards listed on the Directory of Assessment Standards (DAS) and award credit for them. Consent to assess is granted by New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA).

  • Providers need to apply for consent to assess if they want to assess against standards listed on the DAS.
  • Providers need to apply for consent to assess when they want to extend their consent to assess against standards, for example adding or changing a standard in a programme or curriculum.

As part of the NZQA application process, providers will need to supply a letter of support from the relevant WDC. This letter attests that the provider meets the specific industry requirements, including having the resources to effectively deliver and assess the unit standard(s).

WDCs will accept consent to assess applications from 4 October 2021. Please see the ‘how to apply’ section above for more information.

Find the Consent and Moderation Requirements (CMR) documents you’re looking for by searching for the reference number here(external link) on the NZQA website.

Generally, consent to assess involves the provider, the WDC, and NZQA.

Please apply for consent to assess at the individual unit standard level, for unit standards that the applicant intends to use.

In these instances the WDC will write to the Provider setting out the grounds for their concerns. The letter will cover how the concerns can be constructively addressed and the timeline for review.

A WDC will only withhold a letter of support as a last resort. This is where all attempts to address outstanding issues with the applications have been exhausted. A WDC will aim to work collaboratively with providers in these cases.

Providers have an obligation to maintain their consent to assess on an ongoing basis and are subject to the national external moderation system.

We do not charge for our role in consent to assess applications.

However, NZQA does charge for their role in consent to assess applications. Please see the relevant NZQA fees here(external link).

We will aim to provider letters of support for consent to assess applications within 20 working days. However, we recommend that you allow at least three months for the total consent to assess process, including NZQA approval.

More information on the NZQA part of consent to assess can be found in the following documents.

Programme Endorsement Questions

Please click here for Programme Endorsement questions.

Further questions

If you have a question that is not answered by these FAQs, please email [email protected].