Careers and Vocational Information


  1.  Helping your child with option choices
  2.  A careers conversation
  3.  Employable skills
  4.  Qualifications
  5. University Entrance
  6.  Youth Guarantee and Vocational Pathways
  7.  Pre-requisites for certain Career Pathways
  8.  Useful links

Helping Your Child with Option Choices

  • When talking about subject choices with your child rule number one is that they have some interest in or like the subject!
  •  Rule number two is to make sure they are taking the subjects they need for any future career plans. If in doubt keep your subjects broad - and don’t forget the importance of STEM careers (those that require Science, Technology and Maths). If they have a strength in these areas you would do well to encourage them to stick at it, thereby keeping future pathways broad.
  •  Number three is to check the pre-requisites for the subject - what do they need to have done already to be successful in this subject?
If in doubt talk to the subject teachers, deans or career staff. We are all here to help.

Check out this step by step guide to choosing school subjects. On this page there are also some useful links to exploring career options.

A careers conversation

Research shows that parents and close family members are the biggest influence on a young person’s career decisions. Every young person develops career maturity at a different rate and some students are ready before others to talk about future plans. As with any conversation with a teenager - pick your moment! Being encouraging and supportive of your child’s career ideas is vital to keeping the lines of communication open. Try not to impose your ideas when the career is not one that is on your radar. 
Instead of "You must be joking" and/or "How are you ever going to make a living out of that?"  try some questions that get them thinking about the type of work and the work conditions.

“That job doesn’t have much physical activity in it and you’ve said that’s important to you. How much will that matter?”

“You know you like having everything organised and this job has quite irregular hours - how would you cope with that side of it?”

Discuss what your child wants or needs from a career. Attitudes towards money, lifestyle, security or further education vary and can sometimes be a starting point to identify options.

When a young person does not have a specific career in mind, help them to define broad interest areas based on their skills and interests. Then help them investigate lots of options in that field. Encourage them to discuss with people who know them well including staff at school, family friends, employers and coaches and to use the job-search tool on the career services website.
This site offers an extensive range of career information such as job descriptions, funding details, training, industry overviews and further links.

At the college our career mentors Ms Lucas and Mr Bate are available to meet with you and show you further sources of career information. You will find them just inside the gym at URSpace ("Your Social, Personal and Career Education"). 

There are  four areas of career development;  
  • Self knowledge
  • Opportunity awareness
  • Decision Making 
  • Transition Skills
Self-awareness (the ability to identify and articulate motivations, skills and personality as they affect career plans);
Opportunity awareness (knowledge of opportunities and the ability to research these);
Decision-making (being able to weigh up personal factors to make a sound plan);
Transition learning (understanding of how to seek and secure opportunities).

Employable Skills

Many of the ‘transferable skills’ employers want are developed through the school’s general curriculum. You can help your son/daughter develop more skills by encouraging them to take part in after school activities or clubs and playing in sports teams. Also by having a part time job or regular responsibilities at home.

The school has many programmes which may suit your child and help develop skills and career management competencies such as Gateway, Work Experience, Pathways, Outdoor Pursuits and Trades Academy.

NCEA Qualifications

As well as checking out the NZ Careers website keep up to date with the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) by checking out the detailed information on the NZQA website

The NCEA qualification allows a coordinated approach to education and training, giving learners choice and flexibility in what and how they learn. Students build up credits towards qualifications which are portable in New Zealand and overseas. 

Youth Guarantee

Speaking of flexibility, the government and industry sectors have introduced another tool to assist young people gain their qualification; Vocational Pathways. The Pathways help students see how their learning and achievement are valued in the ‘real world’. Students may work towards gaining an industry recognised Vocational Pathway award in Level 2 which goes onto their NCEA Record of Achievement.

The pathways identify a range of Unit standards and Achievement standards that prepare students for on-going education OR employment in the field of their choice. There are 6 colour-coded Vocational Pathways as shown on the rosette below.

When selecting your options, take note of the Vocational Pathway rosette included with each subject to see how that subject can help you build your own profile.

rosette fullThe Vocational Pathways provide new ways to achieve NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3 and develop pathways that progress to further study, training and employment.  The Vocational Pathways provide a framework for students to show how their learning and achievement is valued in the workplace by aligning learning to the skills needed for industry.  

The six Vocational Pathways are:

NCEA Levels 1 and 2 Vocational Pathways were launched in 2013. This was a result of government agencies, the industry training sector, secondary and tertiary representatives and industry and employer representatives working together. In 2015 NCEA Level 3 Vocational Pathways were also released.

* Re-printed with permission from



Email us for any questions - no question is a 'dumb' question! Or make a time to discuss your child's career and learning plans with the year level deans and/or careers team. - general queries - career and option choices

University Entrance and Prerequisites

As well as gaining UE (See NZQA Information) universities also use the Guaranteed Entry Score (GES)  method of assessing students academic ability.
A Guaranteed Entry Score (GES) is calculated using the student’s best 80 credits in up to 5 approved subjects at Level 3 and uses the following formula:

4 points for Excellence credits

3 points for Merit credits

2 points for Achieved credits

The required ranked score for most degrees is around 150 points. You will need to check with the university of your choice for their required GES. Students with an entry score below the GES required may be considered for competitive entry. (See website links below)

To give a student the best possible chance of being accepted into the university or course of their choice we recommend the following strategies:

  • Achieving as highly as possible at NCEA Level 2 (for example, Otago University now offers preferential entry to Merit or Excellence endorsed students at Level 2 plus their University Entrance from Level 3)
  • Taking Achievement Standard courses in preference to unit standard courses;
  • Achieving as many Merit and Excellence grades as possible at NCEA Level 3 (to gain the preferential entry required)
  • Checking the individual university websites (direct links below) for their entrance requirements.

Recommended Background Subjects

Including English, Maths, Science and Technology subjects will keep your future career options broad. Many tertiary courses require or recommend background school subjects. Outlined in the link below are the pre-requisites for Otago University degree areas. 
 For further specifications please contact the tertiary provider, careers team or your child's year level dean.

Other General Background Subject Requirements

 Architecture  Level 3 Calculus,Physics, English plus one subject in creative area such as Art, Design, Graphics. Some workshop skills very useful
 Engineering  Calculus, Physics, Chemistry required for  most university majors. English recommended. Some practical experience also very useful.
 NZ Diploma in Engineering requires Maths to at least Level 2
 Health Science  Level 3 Chemistry, Biology, Physics plus a Maths 
 Nursing  For Otago Polytechnic, minimum of 14 L3 credits in an English rich subject, Biology and/or Chemistry
 Psychology  Biology, Statistics and English rich useful
 Vet science  Three Sciences, Maths and English rich subjects highly recommended
 Information Science  Statistics, English, Computing helpful
 PE  Biology, Statistics, PE recommended
 Journalism  English rich subjects(eg; English, History, Classics, Drama)
 Law  Essay based subjects useful (English, History, Economics, Geography)
 Marketing  L3 Statistics and English useful. Looking at completing a double major could be worthwhile considering
 Teaching  English, Maths, Sciences, Technology, Maori  very useful for Early or Primary teaching
 Aviation  English and Maths, Physics are useful. Must be able to think logically, follow procedures, have good communication skills and work well under pressure.

Once again, please do email us for any questions (no question is a 'dumb' question!) or to make a time to discuss your child's career and learning plans with the year level deans and/or careers team. - general queries - career and option choices