Combine NCEA and tertiary or trade study

Discover the many ways you can combine tertiary, trade and NCEA studies, and get work experience – whether you're still at secondary school or have already left. Options include STAR, Gateway, trades and service academies, Youth Guarantee Fund programmes and Flexible Partnerships (SAC 3+2).

Dion Di Leva soldering in a mobile van

Dion Di Leva was offered a locksmithing apprenticeship after his Gateway experience

Vocational pathways

Vocational pathways show you how different NCEA credits relate to the skills employers value, and help you pick a tertiary or trade course that's right for you.

The pathways cover six sectors:

  • construction and infrastructure
  • creative industries
  • manufacturing and technology
  • primary industries
  • services industries
  • social and community services

Study for NCEA and start tertiary or trade studies while at school

Trades academies

Trades academies teach pre-trade courses to Year 11 to 13 students.

Trades academy programmes are full time (25 to 30 hours a week) and you:

  • are enrolled at school, and study there or at another site such as a polytechnic
  • study towards NCEA Level 2 or above
  • study towards transferable, trades-related qualifications at Level 1, 2 or 3
  • may try out a job in a real work environment. 

Talk to your school's career adviser or dean, or a trades academy adviser about this programme.

Services academies

Services academies are military-focused programmes in schools for Year 11 to 13 students who are losing interest in school studies. 

The programme runs for 12 months and you:

  • are enrolled at school
  • complete challenging outdoor activities
  • attend courses with the NZ Defence Force youth development unit
  • build physical fitness, leadership and life skills
  • study for NCEA Level 1 literacy and numeracy credits
  • study for NCEA Level 2 credits
  • study for other trade-related or tertiary credits.

Talk to your school's career adviser or dean about this programme.

Gateway

Gateway programmes are for Year 11 to 13 students who want to explore job options while studying towards NCEA.

In a 12-month Gateway programme you: 

  • are enrolled at school
  • study for NCEA
  • try out a job in a real work environment
  • study for industry credits.

Talk to your school's career adviser or dean, or a Gateway adviser about this programme. 

STAR (Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource)

STAR programmes are for Year 11 to 13 students who want to explore tertiary study while still at school.

In a STAR programme you: 

  • are enrolled at school
  • study for NCEA Levels 1 to 3
  • explore tertiary study
  • possibly start studying for tertiary qualifications. 

Talk to your school's career adviser or dean, or a STAR adviser about this programme.

Flexible Partnerships (SAC 3+2)

Flexible Partnerships are programmes for senior secondary school students who want to start tertiary or trade study at Level 3 or above while still at school. You enrol at school and at a tertiary training provider such as a polytechnic, and spend time at each location.

For three days a week you:

  • are enrolled at school 
  • attend school
  • study for NCEA.

For two days a week you: 

  • are enrolled at a tertiary training provider
  • attend a tertiary training provider
  • study for tertiary courses at Level 3 or above.

Talk to your school's career adviser or dean about this programme.

Work experience options

Other ways to get work experience while still at school include Work Inspiration and Workchoice Day programmes.

Find out what's available at your school

Check with your school to find out what study options they offer. If you find something that interests you, talk to your school's career adviser or dean.

If you are accepted into a programme, make the most of it – working hard and doing your assignments could help your future career. For example, an employer may want to see your workbook and results to decide if they want to offer you a job.

Study for NCEA and start tertiary or trade studies after you've left school

Youth Guarantee Fund programmes (previously known as Fees-Free)

Youth Guarantee Fund programmes are for young people who: 

  • are 16 to 19-years-old
  • left school with few or no qualifications
  • want to work towards NCEA and other Level 1 to 3 qualifications.

Fifteen-year-olds may attend Youth Guarantee Fund programmes if they have a school exemption certificate.

A Youth Guarantee Fund programme may be full time or part time, and you:

  • are enrolled at a training provider such as a polytechnic, wānanga, or private training establishment
  • study for free
  • build on any NCEA credits you have
  • study for NCEA Level 1 or 2, industry credits and literacy and numeracy credits
  • study for an industry qualification up to Level 3. 

Studying by distance through Te Kura  

You can also study NCEA by distance (correspondence) through Te Aho o Te Kura Pounaumu (Te Kura), either full time or part time.

Youth Guarantee

Youth Guarantee initiatives include trades academies, services academies, Gateway, STAR (Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource) and Youth Guarantee Fund programmes (previously known as "Fees Free"). They offer young people ways to experience real work environments and start pre-trade, trade or tertiary training, while still studying for NCEA.

Updated 16 Jul 2018