Getting to know ...

Getting to know ...

Last updated 31 March 2020
Last updated 31 March 2020

Deirdre Marshall, Project Lead, CoVEs.

Deirdre Marshall

While working as the Manager of Delivery and Projects at the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), Deirdre Marshall recognised the significant opportunities of the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) programme and so was pleased to join the team.

Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) will play a significant role in the new vocational education system. CoVEs are responsible for driving innovation and excellence by strengthening links between education providers, industry and communities. The first two centres will be a Construction CoVE and a Primary Sector CoVE.

“This is an opportunity to get various industry groups together with a little seed money to get a head start on some really big problems and opportunities facing the sector,” says Deirdre.

The broad parameters for how CoVEs run have been set by the Minister of Education, and TEC will help to ensure that each CoVE operates as a genuine centre of excellence. But the exciting thing about CoVEs is that the specific details of each one will be generated by applicants, rather than tightly specified by government.

Registrations of Interest for the Primary Sector and Construction CoVEs will be submitted in March. “And because CoVEs will be nimble and innovative without a lot of infrastructure needed to set up, they can get started right away,” says Deirdre. “We should be seeing significant conversations happening soon.”

Although CoVEs are being created as stand-alone groups, it’s important they operate within the rest of the vocational education system, and will need to work closely with Workforce Development Councils, Regional Skills Leadership Groups, and the Institute of Skills and Technology (working name). Rather than being a think-tank of theories, CoVEs will have to solve real problems and grasp viable opportunities.

“We need to make sure that whatever a CoVE is creating is of real value to the vocational education system,” says Deirdre.

There will be other CoVEs that follow the Construction and Primary Sector CoVEs.  The order that these are funded will be determined by a prioritisation framework currently being developed.

The purpose and coverage of future CoVEs could be defined by industry, occupation, or by type of delivery, for example: kaupapa Māori, online learning, or foundation education. The purpose of each CoVE needs to be carefully considered so that there is no overlap, and also to create a meaningful network of CoVEs across Aotearoa.

“The whole idea of a dedicated Centre of Excellence within a particular area of tertiary education is new, so we are working through this process carefully, but it’s really exciting to think about the great potential of CoVEs,” says Deirdre.

Questions or comments?

The RoVE team, including Deirdre, welcome your feedback and can be contacted at