Frequently Asked Questions

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Background information on the Workforce Development Councils

Six Workforce Development Councils (WDCs), including Muka Tangata, were established in 2021 to ensure ākonga (learners) enter the workforce with the skills needed by employers and necessary for success.

The six WDCs are:

Each WDC will work with industry and employers to understand the skills that are needed. This information will be passed to education and training providers, who will be expected to create learning programmes that will give people relevant skills to address future workforce needs.

WDCs will lead the development of industry qualifications, they will set industry standards and assess training provision against these industry standards. Where appropriate, WDCs will set and help with capstone assessments at the end of a qualification. Industry standards will be consistently applied across the country, and across all modes of learning, whether on the job (such as apprenticeships), on campus or online.

Success for WDCs will mean employers (including Māori business owners) are confident that vocational education graduates are ready for work and that the future skills needs of their industry will be addressed by the vocational education system.

Each WDC engages and works collaboratively with industry, providers, iwi and hapū Māori, as well as Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs), Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) in order to best understand the needs to of the sector.

WDCS will also engage with a range of parties to help inform and prioritise their service delivery. These include the Ministry of Education (MoE), Advocacy Groups, Learners, Te Taumata Aronui, Government agencies and schools.

The key functions of WDCs are set out in Section 366 of the Education and Training Act 2020.

These functions are:

  • to provide skills and workforce leadership for the specified industries, including by identifying their current and future needs and advocating for those needs to be met through its work with the industries and with schools, providers, regional bodies, and the Government:
  • to develop, set, and maintain skill standards:
  • to develop and maintain industry qualifications for listing on the Qualifications Framework and to maintain qualifications for which it has become the qualifications developer:
  • to develop and maintain training schemes:
  • to develop and maintain training packages:
  • to develop, set, and maintain capstone assessments based on the needs of the specified industries:
  • to decide whether to endorse programmes developed by providers:
  • to carry out moderation activities in relation to any standards and capstone assessments it sets:
  • to provide employers with brokerage and advisory services approved by TEC:
  • to advise TEC about its overall investment in vocational education and training and the mix of vocational education and training needed for the 1 or more specified industries covered by the workforce development council in the manner required by TEC:
  • to represent the interests of the specified industries
  • to perform any other functions conferred on it by the Minister in relation to the specified industries.
  • For the purposes of subsection (1)(g), the Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, specify criteria relating to when a workforce development council must endorse a programme before it may be approved by NZQA under section 439.

Expectations about the way WDCs will work are set out in section 369 of the Education and Training Act 2020.

In performing their functions, WDCs must take into account the needs of employers and employees in the industries covered by their WDC; we must also consider national and regional interests. WDCs are also expected to collaborate with providers – including wānanga – other WDCs and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

As a priority WDCs must have regard for the needs of Māori and other population groups identified in the Tertiary Education Strategy. We must also comply with any agreed quality assurance requirements set by NZQA relating to the performance of our functions.

Extensive consultation with industry and the vocational education sector took place prior to WDCs being stood up on 4 October 2021.

The establishment of WDCs was led by WDC Interim Establishment Boards (iEBs) that were made up of industry representatives, many of whom were subsequently appointed to the permanent WDC Council. The main role of iEBs was to oversee the legal establishment of WDCs, which occurred through an Orders in Council (OiC) process.

All six iEBs were responsible for consulting with industry and developing an OiC that outlined the name of their WDC, industries represented, governance arrangements and other core aspects of their WDC. More than 200 people and organisations provided feedback on the draft OiCs. This engagement helped ensure WDCs were established in ways that will best meet industry needs.

Once approved by the Minister of Education, OiCs were sent to the Governor-General for signature. On Monday 10 May 2021 Her Excellency the Governor-General, Patsy Reddy, gave Royal Assent, passing in to law, OiCs establishing the six WDCs. The legislation came into effect on 11 June 2021.

The WDC Orders in Council (OiCs) can be viewed below:

Note, not all WDCs had selected a Māori name by the time their OiC was submitted, hence the OiCs do not reflect current WDC names.

National External Moderation

Moderation requirements are outlined in the Consent and Moderation Requirements documents. A coversheet has been added to each CMR to identify the relevant WDC(s). More information about CMRs can be found here(external link).

Internal moderation:

Providers (including schools) must undertake internal moderation. This helps to ensure consistency of assessment within organisations, over time and between assessors.

National external moderation:

WDCs undertake national external moderation to maintain the consistency of assessment nationally, across all provider types.

We aim to complete a pre-assessment moderation report within 20 working days.

Yes. If assessment materials are modified by the provider then they have to be submitted to the relevant WDC for pre-assessment moderation. Please refer to the relevant CMR for pre-assessment moderation requirements. If you are unsure whether you need to submit materials for pre-assessment moderation, contact the relevant WDC.

Material that has been pre-assessment moderated by a TITO and is unchanged will be recognised as having met the CMR requirements. However, if assessment materials are modified by the provider then they have to be submitted to the relevant WDC for pre-assessment moderation.

Yes. NZQA is responsible for monitoring the quality and results of WDC systems and procedures for managing national external moderation systems. WDCs report annually to NZQA on moderation outcomes and meet with NZQA to discuss national external moderation matters.

These are principles to ensure there is a common understanding of standard setting body responsibilities. This is in relation to Rule 10.3 of the Directory of Assessment Standards Listing and Operational Rules 2021. The principles also provide a common frame of reference for NZQA’s monitoring WDCs. For more information, please see this link here.

We aim to complete an appeal within 20 working days.

There is no charge for WDC moderation activities, including pre-assessment moderation, on-site moderation and post assessment moderation.

Consent and Moderation requirements (CMRs)

You can access the CMRs on the NZQA website at this link.

A coversheet has been added to each CMR to identify the relevant WDC(s). More information about CMRs can be found here.

CMRs will be reviewed and rationalised periodically. When changes to CMRs are made, WDCs will notify providers and all affected parties.

Consent to Assess

Consent to assess is a process that allows education organisations to assess unit or achievement standards listed on the Directory of Assessment Standards (DAS) and award credit for them. Consent to assess is granted by New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA).

Providers need to apply for consent to assess if they want to assess against standards listed on the DAS.

Providers need to apply for consent to assess when they want to extend their consent to assess against standards, for example adding or changing a standard in a programme or curriculum.

As part of the NZQA application process, providers will need to supply a letter of support from the relevant WDC. This letter attests that the provider meets the specific industry requirements, including having the resources to effectively deliver and assess the unit standard(s).

Find the Consent and Moderation Requirements (CMR) documents you’re looking for by searching for the reference number here on the NZQA website.

Please apply for consent to assess at the individual unit standard level, for unit standards that the applicant intends to use.

In these instances the WDC will write to the Provider setting out the grounds for their concerns. The letter will cover how the concerns can be constructively addressed and the timeline for review.

A WDC will only withhold a letter of support as a last resort. This is where all attempts to address outstanding issues with the applications have been exhausted. A WDC will aim to work collaboratively with providers in these cases.

Providers have an obligation to maintain their consent to assess on an ongoing basis and are subject to the national external moderation system.

We do not charge for our role in consent to assess applications.

However, NZQA does charge for their role in consent to assess applications. Please see the relevant NZQA fees here.

We will aim to provider letters of support for consent to assess applications within 20 working days. However, we recommend that you allow at least three months for the total consent to assess process, including NZQA approval.

More information on the NZQA part of consent to assess can be found in the following documents.

Programme Endorsement

WDCs are the qualification developers for the industries we represent. Providers require WDC endorsement before NZQA will approve a programme that leads to a qualification.

WDC considerations focus on specific industries and reflect WDC functions as detailed in Section 366 of the Education and Training Act 2020  Education and Training Act 2020 No 38 (as at 01 January 2022), Public Act 366 Functions of workforce development councils – New Zealand Legislation and each WDC’s Orders in Council.

NZQA has the legal responsibility for programme approval under section 439 of the Education and Training Act 2020.

In considering the programme:

WDC asks: How well does the programme meet industry need?

NZQA asks: How well does the programme design match the qualification outcomes and strategic purpose?

For any new, or Type 2 change to an existing programme providers need to request programme endorsement from a WDC before submitting it to NZQA to seek approval. We encourage providers to engage with us at the earliest opportunity so we can better support and progress the application.

The considerations are the factors your application should address. The WDC will use these to measure or consider your programme for endorsement. The consideration questions differ from the old programme ‘support’ questions.

The six considerations:

  • Programme content
  • Equity for learners
  • Programme engagement and consultation
  • Te ao Māori
  • Pacific languages and learners
  • Disabled people

WDCs understand there will be a transition to the new considerations. We encourage early engagement to work through these and identify these considerations in your programme.

We understand that some considerations may not be applicable to your programme. Please contact us to check or ask for clarification before you start to develop your programme.


You must submit your request to the WDC that is the qualification developer for the qualification that your programme leads to. Search for the qualification by keyword or qualification number on the NZQF.  Click on the qualification to view the name of the current WDC qualification developer.

The WDC will be in touch directly to help resolve any concerns about the programme.

There is no fee for us to review and provide support for your proposed programme.

Our approach to quality assurance

Our aim is that ākonga (learners) can flourish in the food and fibre sector, and that employers and industry to get the skills they need.

We have heard from both industry and providers that they value moderation. Industry want us to enhance this function, and providers have told us what areas we should focus our moderation activities on.

We will continue to build connections and relationships with providers.

We will continue to use a risk-based approach to quality assurance and programme endorsement. And we will continue to carry out provider site visits and carry out desk-based moderation.

In 2023 we are increasing the number of professional development workshops we facilitate with providers and schools.

In 2023, Muka Tangata will focus on the achievement of Māori learners, and we will be building strong relations and connections with kaupapa Māori providers.

We will increase our connections and touch points with all providers by piloting some virtual site visits to supplement face-to-face visits.

We will focus moderation at the programme level.

We will review our Consent and Moderation Requirement (CMR) for currency.

  • By incorporating Aromatawai and the Principles of Assessment into our moderation reports to enable Māori learners to be assessed in a context that reflects their worldview.
  • We will facilitate a series of mātauranga Māori workshops for providers to increase their understanding of mātauranga Māori, te ao Māori and responsive approaches to ākonga Māori achievement.
  • We are calling for Māori ākonga samples to best understand the challenges, barriers and trends.
  • By working alongside providers to support them in meeting the te ao Māori programme endorsement considerations.
  • As well as up-skilling our partners, we have developed a te ao Māori professional development plan to enhance our own understanding, practices and capabilities.

The following te ao Māori values ensures long-lasting relationships with industry and providers that puts emphasis on connections and learners, specifically Māori learners:

  • Whanaungatanga – an emphasis on building relationships first.
  • Whakapono – having a reciprocal high trust model.
  • Whakapakari – a ‘side by side’ approach to improving and upskilling best practice.
  • Whakanui – acknowledging and celebrating stories of success and best practice.

We have developed a resource repository of successful Māori-centric practices in vocational education and training to increase awareness in our sector: Successful Māori-centric practices and models.

We have heard from both industry and providers to focus moderation more at the programme level. We will do this in two ways:

  • Calling for standards to be moderated within a particular programme; and
  • Discussing how a programme is performing with providers during site visits. Programme endorsement is relatively new, and our approach has been as flexible and pragmatic as possible at the time of endorsement. Site visits give the opportunity to check-in with providers around the programme once it has had some use.

NZQA is the quality assurance body for both providers and Workforce Development Councils (WDC). WDCs now have a significant role to play in enabling industry to have a stronger voice in the vocational education system. Through the Reform of Vocational Education, WDCs have our own legislated requirements set out in the Education and Training Act 2022, and individual WDCs have their own Orders in Council.

We have heard clearly from providers to not ‘double up’ on compliance requirements. We will employ partnership approach to quality assurance with NZQA, other WDCs and providers, and we are constantly looking at ways we can make processes clear and straightforward.

NZQA is currently working with partners to review their quality assurance policies and principles – Evaluative Quality Assurance Framework review.

We will be reviewing each of our Consent and Moderation Requirements (CMR) in 2023. We want to capture industry and provider voices to ensure CMRs are supporting quality programmes. We want to hear about any challenges with continuing to meet the requirements and get any feedback for improvement.

Some WDCs are taking a similar approach to Muka Tangata for 2023. Whilst WDCs strive to support providers by having consistent approaches, each WDC is driven by the needs of their industries, and this will mean some inevitable differences or priorities for change.