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Vocational Courses
in New Zealand

Technical or Vocational Courses in New Zealand are the most popular choice to study after kiwis finish their high school studies. The reasons are basically three : the first one is that the vast majority of jobs offered in New Zealand are for this education level and much less options are for academic careers done in a university. Local councils and unions demand certificates of completion of these technical courses for a person pursuing a trade career. A plumber, electrician, carpenter, mechanic, technical appliances and many other professional qualifications simply will not be allowed to work in case they do not have a certificate or a diploma studied plus a license. Without a certificate of completion of a technical course it's not possible to get a licence. Even to make food in a commercial establishment, the chef will have to make a "Hygiene & Food Handling Course" and may have to study few years to qualify as a chef. The second point is that with the exception of doctors, dentists and lawyers who are highly paid, the wages from vocational technical work are also very well paid. The third reason is that there is no social status associated with the professions in New Zealand, all work is considered equal. In addition to that, technical courses have a short duration comparing with a university degree and cost much less. In most cases it would be the last formal study an average kiwi worker does.

Vocational Courses in New Zealand offer professional and practical training. They are delivered in 2 types of institutions: Polytechnics (which are subsidized by the government around 24 in the country) and private institutions in various cities in New Zealand. Some of the technical courses have a sort of reserve market, such as electricians and plumbers and may not be offered to international students. But there are some professionals in such demand by employers that New Zealand was forced to open these courses for foreigners to supply the market. Among them we can highlight: nurses, chefs and professionals in hospitality and Tourism. Each semester, the list of professionals in demand done by the immigration is published in their website and may be modified to include new professionals in various industries. 

A Polytechnic School or a Private technical school in NZ( Institutes of Technology) can deliver several types of courses in a graduate level established by the NZQA (New Zealand Qualification Authority). To study in a course there, the student must be over 16 years and for international students they should have enough English equivalent to an IELTS test result of 5.5 or in some cases 6.0. 

Courses are divided into Technical Certificate, Diploma and Degree, and NZQA classifies the levels of all the courses from levels 1 to 10, being 1 the easiest and 10 the most complex or the equivalent of a University Doctor degree. The Polytechnic only delivers courses up to level 7, with one or two courses per year, starting generally in February and July. If the student wants to continue studying to get a degree in a university. just simply continue the course at the university level without the need for extra tests and receiving credits for the studies already done. The entrance is direct and guaranteed. 

Note: Certificates in NZ are levels 1 to 4, Diplomas are levels 5 and 6, Bachelors degree, Graduate Diplomas and Certificates are level 7. See more NZ education system .

  •  Certificates are the first stage of a course when the student does not know anything about it and after successfully finishing will be eligible to perform a particular occupation or activity. It may last between a couple of days to 3 months depending on the type of course. Certificate are from one (I)  to Certificate IV (four). Normally when a student makes an certificate IV, the certificate one, two and three are within the course, but sometimes depending on the course is not so. Most of technical courses just required to have done the secondary level to be accepted, but it's better check out if it will need any other requirements.

  • Diplomas are extensions of the certificates and may last 1 year on average. This would be the equivalent of a partial year in a university degree, and probably the student may enter after the diploma directly in the second year. The Courses done at the Diploma level may also facilitate to obtain jobs. All Vocational Courses which the institutions are registered and recognized by the New Zealand government can get the qualifications recognized in the country and are also recognized in Australia and some times in many other countries in the world.

Tips and advantages to study a vocational course: Technical Vocational courses may facilitate to find work and get residence permit in NZ: this is one of the ways to facilitate to get a job in NZ so you will be allowed to work and live in New Zealand. Diploma studies done in NZ will provide the qualification to get a job and usually takes a year. You can then get a work visa open, which is called Search Work Visa, a visa for job search, and this visa you can work for up to one year, without restriction of hours. If during this period you find employment in the area which you are qualified, you can make a request for up to two years (according to the latest immigration laws). The Technical courses offer points for residence in NZ too.

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