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Youth Transition


If you’re 19 years or younger, you may be eligible to enrol in one of our Youth Transition programmes or apply for a scholarship. With 60% of UCOL students under the age of 25, UCOL has vibrant campus environments that deliver academic excellence along with a fun student experience. Whether you’re still at school or you’ve just left, UCOL has the support you need to make your transition to study with us as easy as possible.


Youth Guarantee

Are you between 16-19 years old and have left school? Are you looking to jump into a career but don’t know where to start? 

UCOL offers a number of Youth Guarantee scholarships for a range of Level 1 – 3 vocationally focused programmes which could catapult you onto your dream career pathway. Our Trades Academy and Youth Guarantee programmes are among the biggest and most successful in the country. 

The Youth Guarantee scheme is designed to provide 16-19 year olds with an opportunity to study towards NCEA Level 2 aligned with the Vocational Pathways, or equivalent, at tertiary providers free of charge. 

This government initiative provides learning opportunities for students to achieve a minimum of National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) level two or equivalent credits and create more successful transitions from school to study and work.

Youth Guarantee scholarships at UCOL provide an opportunity for you to get a foundation qualification while you gain practical skills to take into the workforce. As a Youth Guarantee Scholarship recipient you may qualify for:

1) Fees free study in Level 1 – 3 programmes for up to two years
2) Cover for course related costs (conditions apply)
3) Mentoring and support towards successful completion 


Potential Youth Guarantee scholarship students are advised that some programmes of study may have limited places. The Youth Guarantee application is in addition to UCOL's normal enrolment process so students are strongly advised to submit their Youth Guarantee application with their enrolment application. 

For more information on Youth Guarantee Scholarships, please visit the UCOL Information Centre on the corner of King and Princess Streets, Palmerston North.

Youth Guarantee at UCOL
Phone: 0800 GO UCOL (0800 46 8265)


Vocational Pathways

Vocational Pathways is a tool that helps you to see how your strengths, interest and achievements relate to future study options and job opportunities. The pathways provide clear study options that are valued by employers and show you what employers expect to see you achieve in your learning. 

What does Vocational Pathways mean for you?
Vocational Pathways give you the chance to identify your interests early on so it’s easier for you to make the right choices when selecting subjects at school or programmes at tertiary – keeping you on track in the best pathway for you.

Why have they been introduced?
Vocational Pathways provide more options for students to complete NCEA Level 2. By having more choices, ways and places to achieve NCEA Level 2 you will have more pathways into further learning and work. When you complete a Vocational Pathway you will receive a Vocational Pathways Award on top of receiving NCEA Level 2. This award is a way of showing employers that you have the knowledge and skills they are looking for.

What happens if I’m interested in more than one pathway?
All of the pathways identify skills that are valued by employers across all sectors. Maths and English skills are especially important across all pathways, so as long as you are achieving the required literacy and numeracy credits you are still able to change direction in your learning. The pathways cover six broad
industry sectors:

Manufacturing and Technology
This pathway may be for you if you are interested in:
• wood, metals, textiles, chemicals or other materials
• making or processing food or beverages
• using technology to develop and monitor production
• working with your hands
• managing and planning production

Construction and Infrastructure
This pathway may be for you if you are interested in:
• physical work and working with your hands
• working with tools, machinery and equipment to do
building, repair or maintenance work
• following and developing plans and specifications
• problem solving
• making calculations, and preparing estimates and quotes
for costs and materials

Creative Industries
This pathway may be for you if you are interested in:
• Photography
• Design: graphic / interior / visual / fashion
• Visual Arts: print / illustration / lens based media /
painting / animation / sculpture
• The performing arts and music

Primary Industries
This pathway may be for you if you are interested in:
• raising and working with animals
• planting, growing and harvesting trees, plants and crops
• driving tractors, motorbikes, boats and heavy machinery
• doing physical work, and working with your hands
• working with tools, machinery and equipment
• business management such as budgeting and accounting
• science and research

Services Industries
This pathway may be for you if you are interested in:
• sales and customer service
• promoting and presenting goods to customers, and using
creative skills
• business management
• working with food and drink
• providing accommodation
• planning, organising or promoting sports or fitness activities

 Social and Community Services
This pathway may be for you if you are interested in:
• working with people of different ages, life stages, abilities
and cultures
• counselling and therapy
• community support and care
• diagnosing and treating people
• planning and organising
• health promotion and advice
• medical research, testing and technical support


NCEA Explained

What is NCEA?
NCEA stands for National Certificate of Educational Achievement. NCEA is the national qualification system for New Zealand's senior secondary school students. It is made up of three certificates at Levels 1, 2 and 3 and usually studied in Years 11, 12 and 13. NCEA qualifications are part of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).

What are the Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements?
The Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements must be met to achieve NCEA Level 1, NCEA Level 2 from 2013 and NCEA Level 3 from 2014.

The literacy and numeracy requirements for NCEA Level 1 are:

Literacy requirement
Minimum of 10 credits through either:
Specified assessment standards or 3 specific Unit standards - package of three literacy unit standards (total of 10 credits - all three required)

Numeracy requirement
Minimum of 10 credits through either:
Specified Achievement standards or 3 specific Unit standards - package of three numeracy unit standards (total of 10 credits - all three required).

What is the NZQF?
The NZQF is a framework of nationally endorsed standards and qualifications. It is made up of 10 levels, with Level 1 the most basic qualifications and Level 10 the most complex. Qualifications are assigned to a level on the scale depending on the difficulty of the skills or knowledge learned.

Qualifications fit into the framework as follows:

Levels 1-7 are national certificates.
Levels 5-7 are national diplomas.
Levels 7-10 are degrees and postgraduate qualifications.

Over the past three years, NZQA and education providers have been working on significant changes to all certificates and diplomas at levels 1-6. The new qualifications are being listed on the New Zealand Qualification Framework. The new qualifications all start with the words "New Zealand" (e.g. New Zealand Certificate in Tourism Level 3). The current qualifications will be replaced by the new qualifications. UCOL, as do all providers, has to go through NZQA's approval process to offer the new qualifications. In the Prospectus, this is what the words "subject to NZQA approval" means. Anyone enrolling in a current programme will still be able to complete that programme.

How does NCEA fit into the New Zealand Qualifications Framework?

NCEA is part of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3 are Levels 1, 2 and 3 of the NZQF. Secondary school students generally study at these levels. Levels 4 and above are usually studied after finishing school.

How do NCEA levels compare with the previous School Certificate?
NCEA Level 1 is usually studied in Year 11. It replaces School Certificate.
NCEA Level 2 is usually studied in Year 12. It replaces Sixth Form Certificate.
NCEA Level 3 is usually studied in Year 13. It replaces Bursary. 

The New Zealand Scholarship exams are usually studied in Year 13 but they are not part of NCEA. The Scholarship is a financial reward for top-performing students who intend to enter tertiary study. The Scholarship does not contribute towards a qualification. To find out more, search 'Scholarships' on the UCOL website.

Why was NCEA introduced?
Under the old system, students' results were often scaled so only a certain number of students could pass. So some students would receive a fail grade regardless of how they performed. NCEA measures each student's learning against set standards, instead of comparing students and ranking them.

Not all skills and knowledge can be assessed using tests and exams (e.g. fluency in foreign languages, competency in conducting science experiments). NCEA provides a range of assessment methods that are appropriate to the subject being assessed.