Workforce Development Councils Background Information

What are Workforce Development Councils?

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.

When were Workforce Development Councils established?

WDCs were stood up on 4 October 2021 through the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE)(external link).

How many Workforce Development Councils were established?

Six WDCs were set up to represent industries in Aotearoa New Zealand. These are:Hanga-Aro-Rau Manufacturing, Engineering and Logistics WDC(external link)

What does a Workforce Development Council do?

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.

Who else will WDCs work with?

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.

What are the functions of a Workforce Development Council?

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.

What industries are represented by each Workforce Development Council?

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.

How were Workforce Development Councils established?

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.

What is set out in the Orders in Council?

Do Workforce Development Councils arrange apprenticeships or training?

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.

What is happening to Industry Training Organisations?

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.