Fit for purpose education and training

Chairlift at Mt Hutt, Canterbury.

Photo: Miles Holden


We have developed priority areas we would like to see for the vocational education and training system. These changes will help equip the tourism workforce to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving industry and help deliver a regenerative tourism system.

Creating a future where... Tourism is recognised as an industry which provides skills for life, where there are many ways to learn in a way that suits employees and employers well. There is an effectively skilled workforce, prepared for the future of tourism.


The vocational education and training system must meet the needs and ambitions of future learners and upskill people working in the industry to help deliver a quality regenerative tourism system. A vocational education and training system that responds to these goals will help to attract and retain people with the current and future skills that the industry needs.

Significant resources have been invested into the Reform of Vocational Education, which aims to create a strong, unified, and sustainable vocational education system fit for the future [1]. We do not wish to duplicate this valuable work. Instead, we are proposing a suite of priorities to be incorporated into this work programme.

Ringa Hora (Services Workforce Development Council) has been established to ensure the new national vocational system meets industry needs [2]. We have worked closely with Ringa Hora, who have welcomed the guidance and input from the Leadership Group and the tourism industry more broadly. We are keen to support Ringa Hora to progress these ideas, including helping them prioritise short term needs and long-term actions.


We have identified several priority areas to tailor education and training design and delivery to better suit the current and future needs of the tourism industry. Areas where important gains can be made include:  

  • stackable micro-credentials and apprenticeships that help support continuous development within career pathways
  • developing strong business skills training for people to progress into leadership roles
  • skill standards and/or learning practices that would equip people in the industry to ‘walk the talk’ on topics such as conservation, biodiversity and a genuine Te Ao Māori approach, including Māori history and stories, tikanga Māori, Te Reo Māori, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, in the specific context of the history of the whenua (land) they operate on (and the responsibilities which come with this)
  • capturing the transferrable and soft skills gained through tourism, through recognising the skills formally or exploring how to better showcase soft skills gained in the industry
  • ensuring tourism education and training is industry/worker/student led
  • mapping the future skill needs of the industry, especially regarding the digitalisation of the industry
  • exploring new training and onboarding opportunities within the tourism industry e.g. a tourism graduate programme which rotates people around different roles and opportunities in the tourism industry
  • ensuring that information about education and training are not just targeted at the prospective/current workers, but also those who influence them (parents/guardians/career advisors)
  • enabling the seasonal and local delivery of education and training programmes
    Key players to create a better education and training system for the tourism workforce include Ringa Hora, Te Pūkenga and other education providers, Tertiary Education Commission, Regional Skills Leadership Groups, Ministry of Education, and more.

Significant progress in the education space for tourism was made when the Government announced a new NCEA Tourism achievement standard [3]. Historically, the study of tourism has lacked credibility and been perceived as less rigorous compared to more traditional subjects. This transition from the unit to achievement standard will help address this issue. Any work done in the education and training space should align with the design of the new achievement standard.


1. Tertiary Education Commission, Reform of Vocational Education.

2. Ringa Hora services – Workforce Development Council (2021), About us, Ringa Hora services – Workforce Development,

3. Education Gazette editors (2022, February 2), Raising the bar for study of tourism education, Education Gazette,