Exemptions scheme for non-domestic learners in work-based learning

Exemptions scheme for non-domestic learners in work-based learning

Last updated 2 September 2022
Last updated 2 September 2022

An exemptions process is being developed in response to changes to eligibility for domestic tuition subsidies for migrant workers who are not residents or citizens, as part of the Unified Funding System changes (UFS).

We are aligning the exemptions process to the national interest test for occupations developed by Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), as part of the Immigration Rebalance work – helping to ensure there is a consistent cross-agency narrative around migrants.

The exemptions scheme is designed to support the Government’s objective of achieving a higher skilled migrant workforce, with the right skill mix to support New Zealand’s economic recovery from COVID-19, and transition to a more productive and sustainable economy.

Post-study work visa settings are changing

From 1 January 2023, legally employed individuals who are not citizens, residence-class visa holders, or otherwise classified as domestic tertiary students, will no longer be eligible for domestic tuition subsidies for work-based learning. This means learners previously able to access training via the Industry Training Register for ‘domestic’ training are no longer eligible, unless they qualify under grandparenting provisions (outlined further below).

It has been agreed that there would be an ‘exemption’ to this under set criteria. The Minister for Education has requested officials design a narrow applications-based exemptions regime for training that is in the national interest (see more detail below).

Non-resident workers will still be able to access training, but international fees will apply, as is currently the case for learners in provider-based training.

The new exemptions scheme has two stages

MBIE has designed the policy and the national interest criteria as part of the Immigration Rebalance to support achieving a higher skilled migrant workforce. There are two distinct parts to the national interest criteria:

  1. Immigration test: To be considered for funding, the non-domestic worker’s occupation must be included on the Immigration New Zealand ‘green list’ or be within scope of a sector agreement. This immigration test assesses labour market need and national interest.

    You can find out more about the green list at Green List occupations – Immigration New Zealand and sector agreements at Sector Agreements Factsheet – Immigration New Zealand (PDF, 692KB).
  2. Skills strategy: For those occupations that meet the immigration test, Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) may choose to advise TEC about an exemption. Their advice will include:
    1. The qualifications related to occupations listed in the green list and sector agreements developed by MBIE.
    2. Supporting evidence from their Workforce Development Plans about the skills supply for domestic students and, if it is weak (e.g., with low training rates), what the plan is to improve it.
    3. A timetable to move away from a reliance on public subsidies for training non-domestic apprentices and trainees.

Current training agreements will be grandparented

Grandparenting provisions will be put in place so that non-resident workers who have a training agreement in place on 1 January 2023 will continue to receive domestic tuition subsidies until they complete their training. To ensure equitable funding outcomes, TEC will monitor training enrolments.

Next steps

TEC is working with WDCs and the Ministry of Education on a non-domestic learners’ exemption criteria process. This process outlines how training for vocational needs can be addressed in alignment with the immigration rebalance. TEC will use the information on skills matching from the WDCs to determine which programmes we will fund to allow non-domestic learners to access training.

WDCs will advise TEC of the skills and training gaps for non-domestic learners who meet the immigration test and should receive funding subsidies. TEC will assess this advice against overall available funding and alignment with strategic priorities outlined in the Tertiary Education Strategy.

Figure 1 below provides an overview of the non-domestic learners’ exemption process (click to open in a new tab).

This image details the non-domestic learner exemption process.

Figure 1: WDC/TEC: NDL exemptions process

WDC/TEC exemption process

  1. WDCs work with sectors covered by the green list and sector agreements to determine potential exemptions requirements.
  2. WDCs compile list of eligible qualifications related to occupations that meet the immigration test.
  3. WDC advises TEC of qualifications related to eligible occupations. WDC applies to TEC for exemptions. 
  4. Assessment of applications: TEC assesses exemption application and negotiates the coverage and duration of tuition subsidy with providers. 
  5. TEC publish list of eligible qualifications related to occupations included in the green list and sector agreements.

Further information on the timeframes for the exemptions scheme is outlined in Figure 2 below (click to open in a new tab).

This is a timeline for non-domestic learners exemptions from June 2022 until February 2023.

Figure 2: WDC/TEC: NDL Exemptions timeline

Timeline: Non-Domestic Learners Exemptions

September 2022: TEC inform sector - process up and running

October 2022–November 2022: WDCs match eligible occupations to qualifications and micro-credentials

December 2022: TEC releases final application process information and supporting guidance

January 2023: Non-domestic learners exemptions go live