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Centres of Excellence



A new Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) in Hawke’s Bay aims to deliver an industry-led approach to vocational education for the primary sector – here we look in more detail at how they will operate


At the start of this year, we wrote an article for Issue 1 of NZ Landscaper Magazine about the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) and the opportunities for workplace-based training in the primary sector. This month, another piece of the puzzle is in place with the announcement of a new primary sector Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE).

The new CoVE, which will be based at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawke’s Bay, aims to deliver an industry-led approach to vocational education for the primary sector.

This CoVE is one of the first two announced by the Minister for Education, showing the importance not only of the primary sector to New Zealand, but the importance of education in the primary sector.

The CoVE is led by a consortium involving 54 organisations across the entire primary sector, aiming to capitalise on the unique strengths of the organisations and their particular industries. Primary ITO is part of the consortium.


We support the primary sector CoVE and it offers a great chance to drive forward the change needed in vocational education for our industries. Bringing people together from across the primary sector means we can partner and collaborate on the training that people and businesses need.

Our industries are constantly evolving, so working together is an opportunity to develop new ways of doing things. As an example, in Hastings, our Primary ITO staff have recently moved into office space at the Eastern Institute of Technology. That will be another way our organisations can work together to get the best results for primary sector learners.



So, what are CoVEs?


The role of the CoVE will be to drive innovation and excellence in vocational education, by strengthening the links between industry and communities. Industry representatives, researchers, training providers and other relevant groups will work together to share best practice and knowledge.

The exciting thing about CoVEs is that the specific functions and activity of each CoVE will be generated by the applicants rather than tightly specified by government.


The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is responsible for making sure that each CoVE is a genuine centre of excellence, bringing together the right people to identify opportunities, solve problems, and drive innovation.

There are several compulsory things that the new CoVE must do. These are:

  • Support the growth of excellent vocational education with a focus on teaching, learning and research.

  • Support the development and sharing of high-quality curriculum and programme design.

  • Have expert representation from industry, the wider sector, and a range of other areas, for example iwi and vocational education representatives.

  • Have a national focus.

  • Address issues and opportunities with a significant strategic impact, ideally with wide-reaching benefits across the sector.

  • Solve real problems and grasp viable opportunities.

There are some things that the CoVE may do – a few examples of these include:

  • Provide training support for employers to improve their skills-building ability.

  • Share applied research with providers and industry to improve knowledge exchange.

  • Improve pathways through vocational education including from school.

  • Provide learning technologies across the network to minimise cost and duplication.

  • Provide advice to providers and employers on best-practice pastoral care to support learners.

  • Devise and implement other innovative solutions and opportunities as determined by the CoVE consortium.

Primary ITO is embracing the changes of the broader Reform of Vocational Education, but we remain very much integral to training, in landscaping and in the many other industries we service – across horticulture, agriculture, rural servicing and many others.


We’re continuing to develop the training programmes industry needs, support employers and learners, and are working hard to make sure industries get the best possible value from the free training and apprenticeships available in our critically important sector.

We know that the greater work around the Reform of Vocational Education has been signposted to take until 2023, and in the meantime, we know that this is the perfect time to get your teams into training, so they are working towards formal qualifications and adding value to your business. To enrol your team in training, or to find your next keen landscaper, visit letsgrow.co.nz




This article was written by Nigel Philpott, Chief Executive of Primary ITO.


Primary ITO offers landscaping apprenticeships and Landscaping Level 2, 3 and 4. For more information on landscape and other training, visit primaryito.ac.nz or call 0800 20 80 20.


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