Evaluating BCATS
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 shows that this is effective at increasing enrolments in ITOs. In particular, BCATS directs the majority of the students towards further training in construction, particularly at BCITO. It was found that 10 years after completing the unit standards, 30% of individuals will have completed a qualification at an ITO.


BCATS refers to ‘Building, Construction, and Allied Trades Skills’, which is a suite of Level 1, 2, and 3 unit standards and qualifications. They are primarily designed to provide secondary school students with a good grounding in a broad range of relevant skills and knowledge. These help prepare students for post-school success in BCATS industries. This report analyses the outcomes of those who took these standards against those that did not to assess the effectiveness of BCATS.

How many students are taking BCATS?

The number of students taking BCATS standards has increased rapidly since their introduction, with over 10% of 2018 school leavers having completed a standard compared with 5% in 2009. Majority of those that take the standards will complete level 2 of the BCATS. There are about ten times as many males as females that complete the standards, however the number of females is increasing rapidly.

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School leaver data is sourced from Ministry of Education data in the IDI. Foreign fee-paying students and exchange students have been excluded. Students are tagged as having completed a BCATS standard if they have ever completed one during their time at school. Those who do not achieve a standard are not included. The percentage of school leavers who completed a BCATS standard includes those who completed level 1 or level 2 standards.

How many BCATS alumni go on to ITO training?

The progression into enrolling with an ITO after completing the BCATS standard is not immediate. One year after completing the BCATS standards, 9% of individuals are enrolled with an ITO. 10 years after completing the BCATS qualification, roughly 30% of those will have completed training with an ITO with an additional 3% still enrolled with an ITO and 16% having their training incomplete.

Of those that only completed the first stage of the BCATS, 24% of them had finished training with an ITO 8 years later. 26% of individuals with both stages will have completed training in the same time frame. This demonstrates that there is a higher completion rate for ITO qualifications for those that do both BCATS standards.

A male is three times as likely to have completed an ITO qualification 10 years after finishing BCATS than a female, however, this is consistent with lower female participation in ITOs overall.

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The BCATS alumni included here are anyone who successfully completed a BCATS standard at school since 2002. Each year after completing their last BCATS standard, they are classified as currently in ITO training, completed ITO training, ITO training incomplete to No ITO training. This training is with any ITO.

ITO training completion is defined as being recorded as successfully completing and/or receiving a qualification. Incomplete training is defined as having no completion recorded, and either an end date recorded in a previous year or the last start date being recorded over three years ago with no end date.

Effect on BCITO enrolment

To investigate the effect of BCATS on the choice of ITO, those who completed the BCATS standards were compared to those that did not. The data is filtered by gender since men are both more likely to choose trade ITOs and to take BCATS standards, therefore, a comparison using both genders would be misleading.

Male BCATS alumni are twice as likely to attend in BCITO than Competenz or Skills Org. Males are 3 times as likely to enrol with BCITO if they completed the BCATS standards. When looking only at female school leavers, the overall proportion going into BCITO training is much lower, with females favouring Skills Org over other ITOs. However, a female that completed the BCATS standards is 10 times as likely to enrol in BCITO than a female that didn’t. Meanwhile, for the Skills Org, a female that completed the BCATS standards is only twice as likely to enrol than a female who did not.

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School leaver data is sourced from Ministry of Education data in the IDI. Foreign fee-paying students and exchange students have been excluded. The first ITO that a school leaver enrols with after leaving is used for classification. Both school leaver and ITO data are for the years 2009 to 2016 inclusive.

Controlling for other factors

The results above could be the result of some form of bias. It is unclear as to whether BCATS is:

  • Attractive to students that would have gone on to study with BCITO anyway
  • Encouraging students to attend BCITO that would have otherwise gone to an alternative ITO
  • Encouraging students to attend BCITO that would have otherwise pursued study or career options outside of ITO training

A regression analysis was conducted to control for the characteristics suspected to also have an impact on an individual’s further study decisions. The table below demonstrates the effect that each factor has on the likelihood of choosing BCITO over another ITO in the five years after leaving school.

The results demonstrate that BCATS still has a significant effect in encouraging students into training and careers in the building, construction and allied trade sectors. However, this effect is only significant for students that complete level 2.

Factor Effect on choosing BCITO vs other ITOs
Completing a Level 2 BCATS standard 2.6x as likely
Gender Men 38x as likely
Gaining university entrance 0.5x as likely
Father in building/construction 1.6x as likely
European ethnicity 1.7x as likely
Decile 1.14x as likely per unit increase in decile

Access to the data used in this study was provided by Stats NZ under conditions designed to give effect to the security and confidentiality provisions of the Data and Statistics Act 2022. The results presented in this study are the work of the author, not Stats NZ or individual data suppliers.

These results are not official statistics. They have been created for research purposes from the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) which is carefully managed by Stats NZ. For more information about the IDI please visit https://www.stats.govt.nz/integrated-data/.

The results are based in part on tax data supplied by Inland Revenue to Stats NZ under the Tax Administration Act 1994 for statistical purposes. Any discussion of data limitations or weaknesses is in the context of using the IDI for statistical purposes, and is not related to the data's ability to support Inland Revenue's core operational requirements.


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