Workforce Development Councils

Workforce Development Councils

Last updated 25 June 2020
Last updated 25 June 2020

Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) will help industry take a lead in making New Zealand’s workforce fit for today, and the future. Through skills leadership plans, they will set a vision for the workforce and influence the vocational education and training system.

On Thursday 14 May 2020, the Government announced a significant trades training package. As part of this, the formation of all six Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) will be fast-tracked for establishment by a target date of the end of 2020. This is ahead of the original target of mid-2021, to help support New Zealand’s COVID-19 recovery. 

You can read more about this decision under ‘WDC Acceleration’. 

The six interim Establishment Boards (iEBs) responsible for the formation of all six WDCs were announced on Thursday 25 June 2020. You can read about the members under ‘WDC iEBs’.

With some amendments, the industry coverage for WDCs is primarily based on the Vocational Pathways and represents broad groupings of industry. Vocational Pathways link the assessment standards at levels 1 to 3 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework to six industry sectors, and show how NCEA learning and achievement is valued by employers. 

The Six Workforce Development Councils and their coverage

The 6 WDCs and their coverage shown as a pie chart

The decision around final coverage areas will be made by TEC and confirmed through Orders in Council (OICs). Each WDC’s industry coverage will be described down to Level 4 of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 2006 in the OICs.

An OIC  is needed to establish the WDC as a legal entity. The OIC covers some very high-level elements of the WDC, such as name, coverage and governance arrangements.

The establishment of WDCs is enabled by the passing of the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act on 1 April, 2020.

WDC Acceleration

Following the Budget announcement on Thursday 14 May and Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ decision to fast-track the formation of all six WDCs with the support of  interim Establishment Boards (iEBs), the TEC ran an Expression of Interest process, 18 May – 2 June 2020, to invite applications from industry for places on the iEBs. 


Why are you fast-tracking the formation of the six Workforce Development Councils?

COVID-19 has resulted in unprecedented impacts on New Zealand industry, employers, learners and communities. We need a strong, unified, sustainable vocational education and training system to help lessen the social and economic impacts of COVID-19. Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) are at the heart of this system and their early influence will be critical in making sure that investment is well targeted and supports business growth alongside great careers.

Industry and employers have told us they want a stronger voice for training, for both current and future employees. Fast-tracking all six WDCs ensures their voice can be part of designing the response to COVID-19.

What are the benefits of fast-tracking the WDCs?   

Fast-tracking WDCs means their influence in the vocational education and training system will be felt sooner than previously planned. WDCs will strengthen collaboration between industry, employers and communities, and help to ensure that timely, high-quality information and advice about learners, labour markets and skills demands are available to Government. They will also be part of a system that aims to provide learners with stronger vocational pathways and different ways of learning and training. 

Will fast-tracking the formation of WDCs impact the transition work of the transitional Industry Training Organisations?  

As planned, the arranging training capability of transitional Industry Training Organisations will still move to providers and their standard setting function will move to WDCs. However, there is no intent to bring forward the deadline for the transition of arranging training. It may be that this transition is completed sooner than the deadline of 31 December 2022 in cases where transitional Industry Training Organisations want this process to move faster.   

Has there been thought given to the fact that you are accelerating the establishment of WDCs at a time when many industries are busy focusing on business survival, recovery and response to COVID-19?

Yes, absolutely. We want to ensure momentum is maintained with RoVE to realise the benefits of the reform as quickly as possible. This includes bringing the six WDCs – brand new architecture – to the heart of the new system as quickly as possible to ensure industry has a voice in COVID-19 related response initiatives.

We understand that industry will need time and space in the immediate future to focus on its own COVID-19 related priorities. This is why the TEC is leading the appointment of the iEB members.

Will fast-tracking the formation of WDCs impact the transition work of the transitional Industry Training Organisations? 

The plan to move the arranging training capability of transitional Industry Training Organisations to providers and their standard setting function to WDCs remains unchanged. There is no intent to bring forward the deadline for the transition of arranging training from 31 December 2022, although, it may be that this occurs sooner in cases where transitional Industry Training Organisations want this process to move faster.  

What does the WDC acceleration mean for transitional Industry Training Organisation staff?

An accelerated programme of work means that all six WDCs will be established around the same time as opposed to the staggered approach previously planned. This will provide standard setting staff at transitional Industry Training Organisations with a greater opportunity to consider their options across all WDCs. The RoVE programme will continue to work closely with transitional Industry Training Organisations to ensure that the transition of standard setting responsibilities and functions happens in a transparent and seamless way.

Will all the WDCs stand up at the same time?

All six iEBs will work on their key activities at the same time so all WDCs can be established around the same time – by a target date of the end of 2020. From here, iEBs will hand over to the first WDC boards – the Establishment Boards. All six Establishment Boards will, at the same time, work on their key activities before the permanent WDC Boards take on their governance role.

Aligning the stand-up of all six WDCs facilitates a joined-up approach between the organisations, supporting efficiencies and cross-collaboration during the establishment process while also enabling shared functions and services to be explored across WDCs.

What Māori and iwi engagement are you undertaking as part of the WDC acceleration?

There are a number of ways we will continue to work with Māori and iwi throughout the process.

The RoVE programme, including the WDC establishment and transitional Industry Training Organisation teams, are committed to working closely with Te Taumata Aronui; a group established to help ensure that RoVE reflects the Government’s commitment to Māori-Crown partnerships. 

We also remain committed to ensuring Māori and iwi are involved and able to provide input to the decisions made, including through the Order in Council (OIC) consultation later this year. To achieve this, we are developing a dedicated Māori and iwi stakeholder communications and engagement tactical activity plan.

How does the work of the WDC design process (design group and reference group) tie in to this plan?

As it currently stands, the design process is well aligned to the target date for establishing WDCs – by a target date of the end of 2020. The design process is on track to provide high level design outputs in September 2020. These will be used by the WDC Establishment Boards – when the iEBs hand over to them – to inform the operating model for each WDC. The timeframes haven’t changed and won’t need to be compressed as a result of the acceleration.

The design process remains an important part of the process and we are very grateful for the continued support and commitment of the design and reference group members.

What does ‘established’ WDCs mean?

When we refer to a WDC being ‘established’ we mean that the WDC exists as a legal entity. Before this can occur, industry must be consulted on the governance arrangements and other core elements of the WDC including its name, functions and coverage. These elements must also be approved by the Education Minister, Cabinet, and the Governor General. This is the job of the iEBs.  

Once a WDC exists as a legal entity, a formal, permanent WDC Board can be appointed, staff can be hired, and the WDC can become operational. The iEBs will hand over to the Establishment Board once the WDC is established. The iEBs are not responsible for WDC operation.

Where can I get further information?

Please visit the RoVE webpages or email


On Thursday 25 June, the Tertiary Education Commission announced its Chief Executive had selected and appointed all six Workforce Development Council (WDC) interim Establishment Board (iEB) members.

Read about the members on the Construction and Infrastructure iEB (PDF, 1.5 Mb); Manufacturing, Engineering and Logistics iEB (PDF, 1 Mb); Primary Industries iEB (PDF, 1.3 Mb); Services iEB (PDF, 1.4 Mb); and the Health, Community and Social Services (PDF, 788 Kb) ; Creative, Cultural, Recreation and Technology iEB (PDF, 1.7 Mb). 

Keep an eye on this page for more updates.


What is a WDC interim Establishment Board?

There will be six WDC interim Establishment Boards (iEBs) responsible for setting up the six WDCs by a target date of the end of 2020. The iEBs will be made up of people, from industry, with the right skills to connect with, and listen to, what industry wants. They have been appointed by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) through an Expression of Interest (EoI) process.

Each iEB’s primary role is to establish the WDC as a legal entity. Where possible, the iEB will also work with transitional Industry Training Organisations, the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) and other providers to provide advice and guidance to inform tertiary education system responses to COVID-19 impacts.

Who appointed the WDC interim Establishment Board members?

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) appointed the members of the iEBs through an Expression of Interest (EoI) process that ran from 18 May – 2 June 2020. Industry was able to self-nominate through the EoI process. In particular, we were looking for people supported by their industry association, membership body, advisory group, employer collective, Māori employer and industry groups, transitional Industry Training Organisation or other wider stakeholder group.

TEC also conducted its own search for appropriately skilled candidates from industry to supplement the EoI process. All six iEBs were appointed in June.

Will industry have opportunities to contribute to the work of the WDC interim Establishment Boards?

Yes, absolutely. This is about getting things started so industry can have influence earlier. There will be lots of opportunities for industry to be involved. The iEBs, with support from the RoVE programme team, will be responsible for keeping industry up-to-date on progress, and inviting feedback on key ideas and issues.

There will also be formal consultation later this year on the key deliverable of the iEBs – the Order in Council (OIC). The OIC is the formal mechanism for establishing the WDC as a legal entity. The iEBs need to develop and share the key content of the OICs with their industry for feedback before the OICs can be approved and the six WDCs officially stood up.

How will the iEBs influence the WDC Establishment Boards?

The iEBs will oversee the process for agreeing governance arrangements that create the WDC, including its first board, the Establishment Board. This will be a key part of their responsibilities. Industry engagement will determine what those governance arrangements are – not the TEC.

What other opportunities are there for industry to have a say in the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE)?

Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs) are also being established. Industries can engage at a local level to help these groups present the pressing labour and skills needs for their region. In addition, industries can work with their local New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) subsidiaries, PTEs and transitional Industry Training Organisations to ensure industry needs are being heard across the system.

Will there be reference groups for the iEBs?

While we won’t be appointing formal reference groups, the iEBs themselves may well establish reference groups as a way to seek the broader view of industry and validate their proposals. This is a critical requirement of the iEBs and is why we were seeking people that are well supported by industry.

All iEBs will also be responsible for statutory consultation on the Orders in Council (OIC) they develop.

Why are you moving forward with interim Establishment Boards (iEBs) instead of the original Establishment Working Groups?

Essentially, the iEBs have the same role and responsibilities as the WDC Working Groups. The change in name is designed to reflect the change in how they are formed. Before COVID-19, the plan was for industry to lead the formation of the six Working Groups. Understandably, industry’s capacity and headspace to focus on this is now limited.

TEC will continue to work with key industry groups, who are already involved in establishing some WDCS, as part of this process. We also want to acknowledge the progress and effort various industry groups have made to date in kick-starting a Working Group for their sector.

The iEB will be able to leverage the valuable work that has been carried out to date. In the meantime, we encourage these groups to use the EoI process to ensure suitable candidates for the iEB are put forward for consideration.

Is there a requirement for Māori employer and/or collective employee or employer representation on the iEBs?

While these are not statutory requirements in the same way they are for the formal, permanent WDC boards, we understand the benefit of involving these groups early on during the selection process. The work of iEBs will be short-term and largely focused on setting out arrangements for how appropriately diverse boards will be appointed to WDCs in the future.

Who will hold the iEBs to account?

The iEBs are intended to act on behalf of industry and to gain the support and mandate of industry when making proposals relating to the new WDCs. Expectations of the iEBs will also be set out in their Terms of Reference. The Chief Executive of the TEC will seek assurances from the iEBs regarding these expectations. Recommendations to the Minister on Orders in Council (OIC) will only be made if these expectations are met.

Where can I get further information?

Please visit the RoVE webpages or email

What does a WDC do?

WDCs will have a forward, strategic view of the future skills needs of industries. They will translate industry skill needs now and in the future for the vocational education system.

WDCs will set standards, develop qualifications and help shape the curriculum of vocational education. They will moderate assessments against industry standards and, where appropriate, set and moderate capstone assessments at the end of a qualification.

WDCs will also provide advice to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) on investment in vocational education, and determine the appropriate mix of skills and training for the industries they cover.

WDCs will endorse programmes that lead to qualifications, whether work-based (such as apprenticeships), on-campus or online. Unless a programme has the confidence of a WDC, which is essentially industry confidence, it won’t be endorsed by the WDC nor funded by the TEC. 

Besides setting expectations, providing skills leadership and setting standards, WDCs will provide employers with brokerage and advisory services. WDCs won’t, however, be directly involved in arranging apprenticeships and other on-the-job training which will sit with providers.

Potential to share some functions across the WDCs

Some WDC work will be common to all of them. Shared functions could include some, or all, of the below:

  • Shared development of skills standards
  • Combined back office functions
  • Information procurement and sharing
  • Centralised investment advice function
  • Centralised planning function.


How have industries been allocated to WDCs?

Industries have been allocated to Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) using the industries listed in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 2006. The industries will be specified down to ANZSIC Level 4 in the coverage description in each WDC’s Order in Council. This is how a WDC’s industries will be specified legally.

Once the WDC is operational, it can describe its industries by the terms they want to use (rather than by the formal ANZSIC classification). The WDC can do this on its own website and in other published material.

Not all industries are specifically listed in the ANZSIC, but they will be covered by other related industries.  For example, composites manufacturing isn’t listed but would be classified under other basic polymer manufacturing and other basic chemical product manufacturing.

How do I find out which WDC my industry has been allocated to?

To see which industries have been assigned to which WDCs, have a look at the industry assignment list (Excel, 48 Kb). 

You can either use the filters at the top of each column, or use the Find function (using Ctrl+F) to search the entire sheet. Or you can use the WDC industry finder tool to quickly find out which WDC an industry has been allocated to.

How did you decide on the allocation to each WDC?

Industry allocation was decided after consultation and engagement across New Zealand with a wide range of stakeholders. We also had input from industry training organisations (ITOs) based on the industries they work with.

What happens if I can’t find my industry?

If your industry doesn’t appear in the tool or you have any questions, email us at

What happens if an industry doesn’t agree?

If an industry believes there is a good reason why it should be allocated to a different WDC, email us at

Transitional Industry Training Organisations and ANZSIC Industry Classifications

WDC Industry Diagram - June 2020 (PDF, 114 Kb)


What is the WDC design process?

The Design Group and the Reference Group contribute to different parts of the design process. The Design Group, consisting of skills based participants and subject matter experts, will create initial design options. The Reference Group, consisting of a wide group of stakeholders including currently underserved learner groups, employers, industry representatives, unions, providers and senior leaders, will test and refine the Design Group’s initial design options to ensure they are fit for purpose.

Read about the Design Group (PDF, 2.1 Mb) and the Reference Group (PDF, 6.4 Mb).

Read more about the progress of the Design and Reference groups.


1.       How did you arrive at these six WDCs?

The primary considerations in making this decision was the feedback we received, industry preference, feedback from industry training organisations (ITOs) and an alignment with current vocational pathways.

2.       If some industries don’t agree with how their sectors have been categorised, can they get this changed?

If an industry believes there is a good reason why it should be allocated to a different WDC, email us at It is really important to let us know right away as the interim Establishment Boards will be using coverage information for the Orders in Council (OIC) required to stand up the WDCs.

3.       Does this change align with the sectors’ preference?

We consulted extensively with industry sectors and their overall preference is that the groupings align with the current vocational pathways. A particular benefit of these WDCs is that they bring a number of new industries or sectors not currently covered by ITOs. These industries will now have a powerful industry voice. Examples include web and graphic design, fashion, ICT and teacher support qualifications. 

4.       Why do we need to change from ITOs to WDCs?

The change from ITOs to WDCs will enable industry to have a greater influence on what and how training is delivered to their future workforce.

This will be achieved by giving industry, through WDCs, greater ability to:

  • influence government investment via TEC
  • set standards across providers delivering training
  • play a skills leadership role in their relevant industries.

5.       How will you ensure that this change won’t affect learners and employees of ITOs and others that will be impacted?

We have listened carefully to the concerns of employers, learners and affected employees, and have given a great deal of thought to minimising disruption during these changes.

Our vocational and education sector have been assured that implementing these changes will not be rushed. There will be a phased, gradual approach to managing transitions of the setting standards function to WDCs, and the arranging training function to providers, to ensure the skills pipeline isn’t disrupted. This is due to be completed by 31 December 2022.

TEC will work with each ITO on transition plans to manage this process. Changes will be handled carefully and only happen when capability is in place.

6.       Are the names for each WDC final?

The names used for each WDC are working descriptions right now and may change as part of the establishment process.

7.   What is happening with potentially sharing services across WDCs?

We will be looking at this as part of the WDC Design Process.

8.   You’ve said WDCs won’t be involved in arranging apprenticeships and other on-the-job training. Who will be doing this?

Currently, ITOs are responsible for arranging the training of people in work, such as apprenticeships and other training. The Reform of Vocational Education oversees the transition of standard setting functions to the WDCs and the arranging of work-based training to providers, such as the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, private training establishments, and wānanga.

9.   Where can I get further information?

Please email

What consultation and engagement was there?

Before any decisions were made about the high-level industry coverage of WDCs, the following consultation and engagement activities were undertaken:

  • Five public workshops/meetings – two in Auckland, and one each in Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton (attended by 213 organisations and 294 people)
  • Workshops with Industry Training Organisations (ITOs), government organisations/officials, and regulatory/skills standards bodies
  • Around 30 meetings with individual industry associations and employers (or groupings of up to 10 organisations)
  • Participation at around 25 ITO-arranged engagement events
  • Regional engagement as a part of the wider Reform of Vocational Education programme, including participation at Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Regional Skills Leadership workshops

Additional feedback was also received via a public email address,

The document What we heard about the potential coverage and governance of workforce development councils (PDF, 6 Mb) provides a comprehensive summary of the feedback we received from consultation and engagement.

Please also find our output documents from some meetings below:

Hamilton – 17 September 2019 (PDF, 563 Kb)
Christchurch – 19 September 2019 (PDF, 750 Kb)
Wellington – 20 September 2019 (PDF, 744 Kb)
Auckland - 25 September 2019 (PDF, 687 Kb)
Auckland - 26 September 2019 (PDF, 1 Mb)

Please find a copy of the presentation given at our meetings below:

WDC Public Meeting Presentation (PDF, 1 Mb)

Please note that this presentation was adjusted slightly for some of the public meetings.