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05.06.24    |  

Government announces further changes to vocational education

The Government issued its budget last week, and while there are many details still to come, we have a high-level overview of what will be changing for the vocational education sector. 

What does it mean for Vocational Education? 

There were a number of key announcements that will impact the vocational education sector, these included: 

- The Apprenticeship Boost Initiative has been made permanent, but it has reduced to only a single year and will only be available to targeted industries and roles. The Government have not yet advised which industries and roles it will be available to, as they are currently consulting on this.  

- Fees Free will remain however it is having a bit of a shake-up.  Learners will no longer be able to access fees free at the start of their training or apprenticeship instead it is changing to the final year of study being Fees Free. This will take effect from 1 Jan 2025 (details of how this will be implemented are still being worked out by the Government). 

- Te Pūkenga will be disestablished. This was not a surprise and had already been clearly signalled by the Government. 

- The maximum that any educational institution can raise their fees in 2025 has been set at 6%. (This doesn't mean we will be increasing our fees - it just sets a limit if we need to).   

- The Government announced that funding for the Workforce Development Councils (WDC) will not continue past July 2025. The six WDC’s are currently responsible for setting standards, developing qualifications, and helping shape the curriculum of vocational education. Details around the shape of how these functions will be performed past July 2025 has yet to be announced. 

What does it mean for VHNZ trainees? 

Most of VHNZ trainees will be unaffected by these changes however those who are doing Roofing or Scaffolding apprenticeships will be affected by the changes to accessing Fees Free. 

From 1st January 2025 there will be no more Fees Free payments (even if you have not yet used your full entitlement). You will need to set up an alternative payment arrangement with our accounts team by the end of this year.  

We don’t yet know how the new Fees Free system will be implemented, but as we receive more information from the Government, we’ll let you know. 

It’s important to note that if you have already received Fees Free for your first year(s), you will not be eligible to receive Fees Free for your final year. 

What does it mean for employers of VHNZ trainees? 

Again, the majority of employers of our trainees will be unaffected. However, if you employ a Roofing or Scaffolding Apprentice there will be changes that affect you. 

The good news is that the Apprenticeship Boost Initiative, which was previously a short-term initiative has now been made permanent. However, the Government has reduced the time frame to just one year rather than two.  As mentioned above, the Government will also be narrowing the entitlement to priority industries or roles, but they are still consulting on what these will be. If you have the opportunity to provide feedback during the consultation, please consider getting involved and advocating for your industry. 

Fees Free entitlement for apprentices is changing, which will mean that some apprentices who were expecting their Fees Free to carry on into next year will now have to pay fees from 1 Jan 2025. Employers may wish to consider whether they can support their apprentices to meet their changing fee payment commitments. 

We know that changing playing fields can be difficult to navigate.  We are committed to keeping you updated as further details from the Government become available.  


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