Tracking destinations of SIT and OP graduates
Key findings

Each year Otago Polytechnic (OP) and Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) produce around 300 construction graduates. Understanding the destinations of these graduates helps to understand how these institutions are assisting with meeting the demand for construction workers. Most graduates live in the regions of Canterbury, Otago and Southland after graduating. A couple of years after graduating, only about 40% of individuals are working within the construction sector. However, within ten years of graduating, 70% have held a job in construction at some point. This demonstrates that these institutions are successful at supplying construction workers to the South Island. To increase supply, it could be fruitful to put efforts into increasing the engagement of graduates within the sector. Further investigation into retention within the industry could also be useful.


Polytechnics are an important source of talent for the construction sector to keep up with its growing demand for skills and capability. It is useful to understand where the graduates go after their study and if they stay working within the construction sector. This report tracks the destinations of graduates from Otago Polytechnic (OP) and Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) to get insights into how these graduates interact with the workforce and move within New Zealand.

Number of graduates

The number of graduates that Otago Polytechnic and Southern Institute of Technology produce each year has been fluctuating around the 300 mark. Across all qualifications, these tertiary institutes have over twice the number of graduates in 2018 as they did 10 years ago. This trend does not apply to the construction qualifications. This could be because these training institutions have increased the variety of qualifications or have had an increase in competition between other construction training institutions.

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From ministry of education records we take graduates from OP and SIT between the years of 2008 and 2018. We limit our graduates to being only recorded once based on their highest level qualification. Construction qualifications are highlighted, which are all qualifications with a NZSCED code of "0403 Building", "0309 Civil Engineering" and "0313 Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Technology". See here for more detail on NZSCED codes.

Regional movements

Since Otago Polytechnic and the Southern Institute of Technology are primarily based in the South Island, it makes sense that initially, over 90% of graduates are in the regions of Otago, Canterbury and Southland. 10 years after graduating, 70% of individuals still living in one of these three regions. The majority of those that left those regions moved overseas.

When breaking the chart below down by all study fields, it can be observed that there is a much larger mix of where the graduates migrate to. This is partly due to the Southern Institute of Technology offering distance learning and Otago Polytechnic having a campus in Auckland.

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From the graduates identified above we track the region spent most time living in each year after graduating.

Construction engagement

The chart below shows the employment status of construction graduates from SIT or OP in the construction industry. In the years after graduating, between 40% and 50% of graduates have active employment in the construction sector. However, within ten years of graduating, 70% of graduates have, at some point, held a job in construction. To increase the overall supply of construction workers, it could be beneficial to look at both retention rates within the construction sector and encouraging graduates to take up a job in construction.

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From the graduates identified above we track construction related employment through IRD tax records.


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

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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