More young people with NCEA Level 2

NCEA Level 2, or an equivalent, is the minimum qualification that young people need if they are to have access to further work, training, and education. This in turn increases their chances at a better quality of life and their health outcomes.

Key facts

The estimated 2016 NCEA level 2 attainment rate for all 18-year-olds is 85.2%, an increase of 10.9 percentage points since 2011. If this estimate holds, we will have achieved the previous Better Public Service target, of having 85% of 18 year olds with this level of qualification in 2017. The estimates may change (either up or down) once 2016 NCEA Level 2 results have been finalised.

There has been a sharp improvement in Māori and Pasifika achievement in particular since 2011. An estimated 74.7% of Māori achieved NCEA Level 2 or equivalent in 2016 – 17.6 percentage points more than 2011. More than 80% of Pasifika 18-year-olds achieved NCEA Level 2 in 2016 – up 14.8 percentage points from 2011.

The table below shows progress towards the NCEA Level 2 for 18-year-olds from 2011-2016.

Table 1: Percentage of 18-year-olds with NCEA L2 2011-2016

 % 2011 (final)% 2014 (final)% 2015 (final)2016 (estimated)
All 74.3 81.2 83.3 85.2
Māori 57.1 67.7 71.1 74.7
Pasifika 65.5 75.0 77.6 80.3

To see the datasets go onto (external link)

What we are doing to achieve this

  • $43 million in extra funding, over four years, to schools with a total of around 131,000 students most at risk of educational underachievement. Secondary schools can use this funding to help more students achieve NCEA Level 2 or equivalent. 
  • Twenty four Trades Academies helping students to achieve NCEA Level 2 or equivalent. From 2016, these provided 6109 available places for students; a 10 fold increase since 2011. 
  • We now have one Trades Academy place for every 26 students.
  • Around 9,200 free-fees places are being offered to 16-to-19-year-old students in 2017. Students study towards NCEA Level 2 or equivalent, with tertiary providers, free of charge. 
  • Launched FindMyPath - Youth Guarantee , a website to help young people explore the qualifications they need to succeed in to achieve their career goals.
  • Continued funding in Budget 2016 for Youth Guarantee initiatives such as Vocational Pathways and the Youth Guarantee Achievement, Retention and Transition (YGART) programme to increase NCEA Level 2 or equivalent achievement and student progression into further study, train or work. 
  • Increased Trades Academy funding to $67.186 million in 2016/17. An extra 1,200 students will gain access to trades academies over the next 4 academic years from 2016 as a result of this increase. 
  • Working with schools and tertiary providers to build transitions pathways from Levels 2 and 3 to Level 4+, and into employment, to support industry skill needs in line with the Business Growth Agenda and regional economic development action plans.
  • Extending and maintaining Vocational Pathways from Level 1 to 3 and higher. 
  • Promoting best practice around secondary-tertiary partnerships, utilising Vocational Pathways to guide student decisions, and responding to industry skill needs. 
  • Facilitating over 90 community led Youth Guarantee Partnerships and projects to better use local education resources for students and build capability within the education sector.

Graph showing 18-year-old attainment of a minimum of NCEA level 2 or equivalent.

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