Trades academies

Learn about trades academies, which aim to engage students in education whilst equipping tomorrow’s workforce with relevant skills.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Trades Academies
  • Tertiary Education Organisations
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Teachers and Kaiako
  • Students
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau

Enrolment in a trades academy is optional and may best suit the needs of some students.

About trades academies

Trades academies are secondary-tertiary programmes that provide senior secondary students access to a broad range of trades or technology learning opportunities to ensure they stay engaged in education.

The programme is delivered through partnerships developed between schools, tertiary education organisations.

The programme is full time (25-30 hours per week) for students already enrolled at school and:

  • consists of learning in secondary and tertiary settings
  • may include work experience where this forms part of the tertiary or secondary programme.


The purpose of a trades academy is to:

  • motivate more students to stay engaged in learning and training by providing them with a greater number of options for study
  • provide clear post-school pathways by giving students a head start on training for vocational qualifications and smooth access to employment
  • improve the responsiveness of schools to business and economic needs.


The programme must lead to a worthwhile qualification at a minimum of NCEA Level 2 for enrolled trades academy students

Students must also be working toward a nationally transferable trades-related tertiary qualification at Level 1, 2 or 3 as part of the programme. It's expected that students will have the opportunity to achieve an award in at least 1 of the 6 Vocational Pathways for NCEA Level 2.

Vocational Pathways — Youth Guarantee website(external link)

The Government's expectations

A key priority for Government is to help students to remain engaged in education and achieve worthwhile qualifications. Trades academies will provide students with an integrated pathway into further education, training or employment through closer alignment of schools, the tertiary sector and industry.

A trades academy does this by delivering programmes to students in Years 11-13 that:

  • take account of local and national workforce needs
  • are aligned to allow students to achieve secondary and tertiary qualifications.

It ensures that programmes have clear and relevant links to current Government strategies, especially the Tertiary Education Strategy, Ka Hikitia, Action Plan for Pacific Education and the Disability Action Plan.

It engages young people in education through:

  • teaching and learning programmes designed along Vocational Pathways
  • the use of culturally-responsive approaches and contexts
  • constructive and coherent career advice and guidance so that students and their parents can manage career development.

And it develops viable working partnerships between secondary schools, tertiary organisations, industry and iwi that promote education, welfare and safety of students.


Legislative changes enabled approved organisations to be formally recognised by the Minister of Education to deliver a trades academy secondary-tertiary programme. The programme must also be approved by the Secretary of Education.

Once a programme is recognised and approved, it will be co-ordinated and managed to ensure that the overall provision is suitable.

The trades academy can be governed by either a Lead Provider or a Provider Group that is responsible for the operation of the trades academy programme.

A lead provider can be a school or a tertiary provider.

A provider group can be a group of jointly responsible organisations and will include at least 1 school and 1 tertiary provider, but can include other organisations, such as an employer.


Each trades academy is responsible for selecting and enrolling students.

Students must be enrolled in a secondary school and must participate full time in the programme to be eligible to enrol.

As programmes offered differ, entry requirements, application and interview processes (including selection criteria) will vary between each respective trades academy.

Trades academies are expected to develop coherent, integrated programmes made up of both school study and tertiary study.

Students and their families should contact their school in the first instance if they are interested in enrolling in a trades academy programme. They can also contact a trades academy directly for further information.


Each trades academy will be able to outline the attendance arrangements for each participating student. These arrangements will specify when the student must attend the school, the tertiary organisation and/or the work experience component of the programme.

If for any reason a student aged under 16 can't continue with the programme, they must return to their school full time.

Exclusions, expulsions and discipline

Existing provisions relating to schools continue to apply as the student is still enrolled at school.

A Tertiary provider can withdraw a student from the programme at any time following their normal processes. This must occur in consultation with the school which will apply its own processes to determine whether the student can return to school.

These arrangements will be negotiated with each provider and set out by the trades academy in their memorandum of understanding with participating schools and organisations.


The funding model for trades academies is based on a per-learner rate that is provided to schools and tertiary education providers based on the proportion of the programme the learner spends in each.

Schooling funding arrangements

Schools will be funded by the Ministry.

Learners enrolled in a trades academy will not be counted on a school’s regular roll for resourcing purposes. Instead, schools will be funded on a pro rata basis for general teaching and learning, and any trades learning, provided at the school.

Schools will continue to calculate the actual FTEs as per the roll return guidelines.

Tertiary funding arrangements

Tertiary education providers will be funded by the Tertiary Education Commission.

Tertiary providers cannot claim any Student Achievement Component or Youth Guarantee funding for learners enrolled in STPs. Instead, tertiary education providers will be funded on a pro rata basis for general teaching and learning, and any trades learning, provided at the tertiary education provider.

Principles and methodology

The funding arrangements will:

  • enable funding to follow learners
  • provide schools and tertiary education providers with the flexibility required to deliver innovative secondary-tertiary programmes
  • provide for a fees free education, however students don't qualify for student loans, allowances or course-related costs 
  • minimise double-funding  providers are funded for the provision they deliver 
  • reflect the principles of partnership and collaboration  providers need to work together to contribute specialist expertise and resources.

The funding model includes (rates applicable from 2023 calendar year):

  • $10,070 for general teaching and learning. This will be divided between schools and the tertiary education providers to reflect the proportion of the study week spent at each provider.
  • $3710 for trades delivery. This reflects the higher costs of delivering trades education subjects. Payment for these services will be made directly to the school or provider delivering these components of the programme on a pro-rated basis.
  • $1300 per student for pastoral care and co-ordination. This will be paid to the lead provider.
  • application-based transport funding. Lead providers of trades academies with high transport needs can apply to the Ministry of Education for recovery of these costs.

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