BCATS analysis

Analyse the effectiveness of BCATS in guiding students towards trades training

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In this article, we analyse the effectiveness of BCATS. BCATS refers to the National Certificate in Building, Construction, and Allied Trades Skills at Levels 1 and 2, and is a series of unit standards for high school students introducing them to the skills required for the building and construction industry. The data analysis below aims to determine the effectiveness of guiding students into careers or further training in the building, construction and allied trades industry. Our analysis finds that BCATS alumni enrol with ITOs at a high rate, and they are drawn to BCITO in particular.

How many students are taking BCATS?

The number of people taking BCATS standards has increased rapidly since their introduction, with almost 10% of 2016 school leavers having completed a BCATS standard. The number of boys completing the standards is about ten times the number of girls.

How many BCATS alumni go on to ITO training?

In the years after completing a BCATS qualification, a significant proportion of completers enter into ITO and ITP courses.

The number of alumni completing ITO training increases gradually over the decade following their last BCATS standard, reaching about 30% after 10 years. The rate for women is significantly lower, but this is consistent with women’s lower participation in ITO training overall.

Effect on BCITO enrolment

To investigate the effect of BCATS on school leavers’ choices further, we compare with school leavers who did not complete a BCATS standard. We then calculate the fraction among each group that goes into training with each ITO. In the chart below, we can see that BCATS alumni are disproportionately likely to participate in BCITO training, when compared to other trade ITOs.

We have filtered by gender since men are both more likely to choose trade ITOs, and more likely to take BCATS standards, and so a comparison using both genders would be misleading. When we look only at female school leavers, the overall proportion going into BCITO training is much lower, however those who do take BCATS standards are still more likely to go on to BCITO training.

Controlling for other factors

From the previous chart, it is unclear as to whether BCATS is:

  • Attractive to students that would have gone on to study with BCITO anyway
  • Encouraging students that would have gone to other ITOs to instead go to BCITO
  • Encouraging students that would have pursued study or career options outside of ITO training to instead go to BCITO.

We performed a regression analysis to control for the characteristics of each student, including school grades, or where parental employment was in the building, construction, or allied trade sectors. In the following table we present the effect that each factor has on the likelihood of choosing BCITO among those who enrolled with any ITO in the five years after leaving school.

Even after controlling for these factors, it appears that BCATS is having a significant effect in encouraging students into training and careers in the building, construction, and allied trade sectors. Completing a Level 2 BCATS standard shows a significant effect, however completing only a Level 1 standard does not.


Effect on choosing BCITO vs other ITOs

Completing a Level 2 BCATS standard

2.6x as likely


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


1.14x as likely per unit increase in decile

Other factors, such as region, were tested but had low significance often due to very small numbers.


The number of students completing BCATS standards has increased in recent years, with almost 10% of 2016 school leavers having completed a BCATS standard. Students who complete BCATS standards are more likely to go on to ITO training and, in particular, training with BCITO. After controlling for a number of other factors, we find that BCATS alumni are about twice as likely to choose BCITO training compared to other recent school leavers who started ITO training. This shows that BCATS is doing a good job at guiding school leavers towards training and employment in the building and construction sector.

Related links

Information on the BCATS qualification can be found on the NZQA website here.

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