Additional BCATS outcomes
Key findings

BCATS, or the National Certificate in Building, Construction and Allied Trades Skills, aims to guide students towards a career in a related industry. This study expands on Evaluating BCATS by tracking additional outcomes. It was found that on average, students that completed the BCATS standards have a smaller time gap between finishing secondary school and starting their apprenticeship with BCITO. BCATS alumni are also more likely than non-BCATS alumni to complete their training. Individuals with BCATS experience are expected to start working in construction sooner and retain in the sector for longer than those with no experience.


BCATS refers to the National Certificate in Building, Construction, and Allied Trades Skills at Levels 1 and 2. It is a series of unit standards for high school students introducing them to the skills required for building, construction and allied trades. These standards were designed in hope that it would encourage more secondary students to move into the trades. In a previous study on the BCATS standards (see here), it was found that about 10% of school leavers complete a BCATS standards each year, and those who did were 2.6 times as likely to enrol into an apprenticeship with BCITO. This report extends this evaluation by tracking additional outcomes of school leavers that went onto start an apprenticeship with BCITO, including, the time between leaving school and starting training, training completion rates, time to complete training, and retention rates within the construction sector. This is conducted by comparing those who did a BCATS standard with those that did not.

Gap between school and BCITO enrollment

The chart below illustrates the time it takes for school leavers to enrol with BCITO. It is broken down by whether the student took the BCATS standards, and if so, the highest level they completed. It can be observed that on average BCATS alumni take half a year between finishing school and starting training with BCITO, while those with no qualification took a year longer. This concludes that the BCATS standards decrease the expected time individuals spend between school and starting an apprenticeship with BCITO.

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From apprentices starting each year with BCITO we track the gap between leaving school (2009 and after) and starting training.

Completion rates

The chart below demonstrates the competition rate of an apprenticeship with BCITO broken down by previous engagement with the BCATS. It can be observed that individuals that completed BCATS at secondary school are more likely to complete their training. Of those that completed the level 1 BCATS standard, 69% of them completed their training with BCITO within 5 years, compared to a 55% completion rate for those with no completed BCATS standards.

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We track completion of apprentices each year after starting training. Apprentices are limited to school leavers in 2009 and after and broken down by BCATS standards while at high school.

Time to complete training

The chart below shows that there is no significant difference in the time taken to complete an apprenticeship for those that completed a BCATS standard and those that did not.

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Of apprentices starting each year we track the number of months between starting training and completing training by 2019.

Apprentices are limited to school leavers 2009 and broken down by BCATS standards completed whilst at high school.

Employment in construction

This chart demonstrates the likelihood of an individual holding a job in construction based on their experience with the BCATS standards. Those that completed a BCATS standard were almost twice as likely to have held a of in the construction sector than those with no BCATS experience.


Gap between school and first construction job

This chart demonstrates the time gap between finishing school and starting a job in construction. Those that completed a BCATS standard took just over two years on average to start a job in construction, while those that did not complete a BCATS standard took almost four years.


Retention in construction

The chart below summarises the total time spent working in the construction sector until the end of 2018. The average BCATS alumni worked within the industry for four years, whereas those that did not complete a BCATS standard spent on average 2 years working in construction.



Access to the anonymised data used in this study was provided by Statistics New Zealand in accordance with security and confidentiality provisions of the Statistics Act 1975, and secrecy provisions of the Tax Administration Act 1994. The findings are not Official Statistics. The results in this paper are the work of the authors, not Statistics NZ, and have been confidentialised to protect individuals, households, businesses, and other organisations from identification. Read our full disclaimer here.


Evaluating BCATS

Analyse the effectiveness of BCATS in guiding students towards trades training

workforce supply Secondary to workforce bcats Talent attraction Secondary to tertiary