Financial assistance for trainees and workplaces

Our trainees and workplaces may be able to access financial assistance to support their industry training. Read on for more information and eligibility requirements - these vary depending on the scheme.


If you are a trainee signing up for an on-job qualification, you could be eligible for the Fees-Free initiative. If you are eligible, Fees-Free will cover your training and assessment fees for the first 24 months of your programme.

In order to receive Fees-Free training, both you and the programme that you enrol in must be eligible under the government’s criteria.

Eligibility criteria for 2019 and 2020

The learner:

Must be allowed to work in New Zealand, AND

Must not be enrolled in school when their programme starts, AND

EITHER was enrolled at school in 2017 or later,

OR has not completed previous study or training of more than 60 credits (or 0.5 EFTS) at Level 3 or above.

EXEMPTION: Exempt previous study includes industry training programmes consisting of fewer than 120 credits reported after 1 January 2018.

The industry training programme:

Must be at least 120 credits

Must be recognised by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority

Must be at Level 3 or above on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework

Must not be part of a school learning programme or secondary-tertiary programme.

Which Skills Active Programmes are eligible?

 Currently, the following Skills Active apprenticeships are eligible for Fees-Free training:

Senior Pool Lifeguard | Level 4 | 120 credits

Specialised Swim and Water Safety Teacher | Level 4 | 120 credits

Entertainment and Event Technology | Level 4 | 120 credits

Outdoor Recreation Multi-Activity Instructor | Level 4 | 131 credits

Did you know: If you're not eligible for Fees-Free, but you want to do one of our apprenticeships, we have an assessment rebate available.  Ask us about this option! 

Click here to check your eligibility on the Fees-Free website.


Can industry training affect my eligibility for future Fees-Free study?

Any industry training programmes completed during or after 2018 will not impact Fees-Free eligibility, unless they are 120 credits or more

What this means is: Your future eligibility will not be affected by enrolling in one of our shorter training programmes which are under 120 credits.

If you’re in any doubt about the Fees-Free process or the impact of your training on your future eligibility, drop us an email or contact one of our regional advisors.

You can also download our general list of fees here.

Mana in Mahi

The Mana in Mahi programme is designed to help young people who have been on the benefit to move into employment.

It's available across all industries, so that businesses can grow while providing opportunities for young people to gain experience and earn qualifications.

If you are interested in Mana in Mahi, it's really important to speak directly with the team at Work and Income New Zealand to understand if it's right for you.

Below, we've provided some basic information to get you started.

For our workplaces:

Mana in Mahi may be open to you if you are offering a full-time role (30 hours +) to a person aged 18-24, who has previously been on the benefit for three months or more. 

You must be paying at least the adult minimum wage, and you need to commit to supporting your trainee to complete a Skills Active industry training programme.

Mana in Mahi will pay for any pre-work training that your candidate needs. They will also schedule regular visits to support you and your new employee. Your new staff member will also receive three incentive payments in their first year, to help motivate them to meet their work and training goals.

Click here for more detailed information for employers from the Mana in Mahi site.

For our trainees:

To take part in Mana in Mahi, you must be between 18 and 24, and moving into paid work after having been on the benefit for three months or more. 

You need to be working at least 30 hours a week with your new employer, and you must commit to pursuing a Skills Active on-job qualification that matches your role.

As well as dedicated support and regular visits from the Mana in Mahi team, if you stick at it you will receive three $1,000 incentive payments, over the course of your first year in the job.

Click here for more detailed information for trainees from the Mana in Mahi site.


The training wage 

If you are an employer taking on a new staff member, and they are completing at least 60 credits a year in a Skills Active industry training programme, then you may be able to pay them the training wage.

The training wage is 80% of the adult minimum wage. It can only be paid to people who are aged 20 or over, and it cannot be paid to any employee who is responsible for supervising other staff.

If you think your business could be eligible to offer the training wage, your next step should be to speak directly with the team at Employment New Zealand to understand your rights and responsibilities.

In order to be eligible, you and your employee must have their industry training commitment written into their employment contract. The training must be required for them to become qualified in their role.

Your employee is only eligible for the training wage while they are completing 60 credits a year. If they finish their qualification, or they are no longer doing 60 credits in a year, you must pay them at least the adult minimum wage. You should reassess eligibility each year.

Click here for more detailed information from the Employment NZ website.