More young people with higher qualifications

Result 6 target: in 2018, 60% of those aged 25–34 years will have a tertiary qualification at Level 4 or above.

 Key facts - NZQF Level 4 or above

  • In 2012 the Government set a target that 55% of 25-34 year-olds would hold a qualification of Level 4 or above in 2017. In 2014, the Government updated the target to be 60% of 25-34-year-olds in 2018. The target was revised as it was expected that the 55% target would be met before 2017, given recent trends in the measure and for other positive trends in tertiary completion rates.
  • Working together, we have increased the number of 25-34 year olds with qualifications at Level 4 and above from around 52% in 2012 to an annual average in December 2016 of 57.2%.

What are we doing to help achieve this result?

Government has focused on improving the tertiary education system, and education pathways from schools to tertiary study and employment.

We have improved the quality and relevance of education provision by:

  • Implementing reforms to improve the quality of industry training, improving outcomes for learners. 
  • Establishing three Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Graduate Schools. The schools lift the number of ICT graduates available to staff New Zealand’s fast-growing software and software services industry.

We have increased participation and success in tertiary education or training by:

  • Increasing numbers enrolling New Zealand Apprenticeships. There were approximately 42,000 apprentices in 2015 compared to just over 36,000 in 2012. Funding for an additional 5,500 apprentices by 2020 was announced in the 2016 Budget, and the Government also recently announced an ambitious new target to have 50,000 people to be training in apprenticeships by 2020.
  • Extending the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT) initiative from 1,200 allocated places in 2015 to 3,000 places in 2017. 
  • Fostering partnerships between schools, tertiary providers, industry training organisations and employers through initiatives such as Youth Guarantee. Senior secondary school students can enrol part-time in school and part-time in tertiary education or industry training to explore career options and get a head start on a vocational qualification, alongside completion of NCEA Level 2 or 3. 
  • From 2013, fees-free foundation education provision has been expanding, and was available to learners under 25 years from 2014.

We have improved the quality of information available to students, parents, family and whānau by:

  • Publishing national level employment outcomes of tertiary education. This gives students more information to enable them to make good study choices. 
  • Developing online tools that enable students and their families and whānau to compare study options and careers.


Proportion of 25-34 year olds with qualifications at NZQF Level 4 and above.


Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback