Career services in New Zealand

The government is responsible for funding, delivering, and providing oversight to the careers system. It directly contributes to delivery and funding of a range of career services through a variety of channels including career educators in schools, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), and Connected.

Many of these services are targeted at specific groups that require more support within the labour market, such as ACC supporting people to return to or remain in work, and MSD supporting clients and funding charitable organisations such as Workbridge who support people with disabilities to find work.

There are also more general services available. For example, the TEC provides career services from education to employment via careers.govt.nz. Also, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government introduced a new free and personalised career support service that is available to anyone. The Direct Career Services programme is a support service for people who want to transition into new or different work. It includes both a light-touch phone service and a face-to-face service located in MSD service centres. The service is provided by contracted Career Practitioners, who have appropriate professional qualifications. It is funded to June 2025 and it is the first time the government has made career support services available to everyone:

Get free career advice(external link) – careers.govt.nz

Schools are required to provide careers education and guidance

Under the National Education and Learning Priorities, schools are required to collaborate with industries and employers to ensure learners/ākonga have the skills, knowledge and pathways to succeed in work.

Specific actions include:

  • Support learners/ākonga to see the connection between what they’re learning and the world of work.
  • Break down ethnic, gender and socioeconomic stereotypes around education and career pathways, including for girls and young women.
  • Collaborate with industries, employers and tertiary education providers to plan for successful transitions to enable all learners/ākonga to succeed in education.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has collected examples from around the world of effective career guidance for primary and secondary school students. See:

Example of practice(external link) – OECD

Career services are funded in a variety of different ways

Beyond the school system, the career guidance services available have differing levels of cost, from static resources which are lower cost to personalised support which is more resource intensive and higher cost.

Funding for programmes comes from a range of different sources:

  • Government such as MSD work brokers, ACC, Direct Career Services, career websites, funding within the community, in school career advisors, local government support.
  • User-pays, usually private career advisors who are generally members of the Career Development Association of New Zealand (CDANZ).
  • Employer-pays such as in work schemes, in school support, career support provided by industry groups.
  • Education providers should offer orientating information about courses and may offer some career support.
  • Local government and economic development agencies provide funding for and/or run local programmes.
  • Charities fund and run often regionally based programmes.

In some instances, funding will be from a several of these sources.

Annex 1 includes a list of some career services available in New Zealand and how they are funded.

Annex 1: Examples of career guidance services in New Zealand

The future of career services in New Zealand

National Careers System Strategy refresh

In August 2023 the TEC released the National Careers System Strategy.

National Careers System Strategy(external link) — TEC

The key focus areas of the strategy are:

  • Strengthen connections – establish a leadership function for the careers system to improve coordination and support stronger connections.
  • Grow quality careers support – improve the quality and availability of careers support, and the diversity of those who deliver it.
  • Ensure equitable access – work collaboratively with Māori, Pacific people, disabled people, and other priority groups to understand and remove barriers that prevent people and their whānau from accessing and using the careers system.

The TEC has also released an action plan outlining the steps needed to implement the strategy. TEC will lead and coordinate implementation.

As part of this, the TEC is developing Tahatū – a new online career planning solution that is the ‘next generation’ of the careers.govt.nz website, refreshing the content, tools, and functions. Tahatū will be launched next year.

Active labour market review

Government is currently reviewing its active labour market policies. These are policies and programmes that are intended to reduce unemployment. The scope of this review includes the career supports provided by government.

This broad review involves government looking at what programmes it is already providing, whether the programmes are fit for purpose, and if there are any gaps. This work is ongoing and with various milestones over the next few years. The outputs from this work may result in changes to how and what career support programmes are in place.


Careers information comes in many different formsGood careers advice is flexible to meet the needs of the individual >

Last updated: 07 December 2023