An interesting development from the government, allowing students to get NCEA credits for getting their drivers licence.

School students will be able to get NCEA credits by obtaining a driver licence – and will even pick-up credits for passing a learner’s theory test.

In making the announcement, Education Minister Hekia Parata said too many young people missed out on jobs because they didn’t have a licence, and others found themselves before courts because they drove without a licence.

Students will gain 2 credits towards NCEA Level 1 by passing the learner licence theory test, 4 credits towards NCEA Level 2 for a restricted licence, and another 2 credits towards NCEA Level 2 for gaining a full licence.

The changes will be in place by April next year.

Ms Parata said schools would not be obliged to include driver training in their curricula, “but many will find doing so makes learning more relevant for students”.

“As an example, a school might find that incorporating a learning module for the licence theory test into its Year 11 English programme…helps to engage the interest of students.”

I do believe that having a drivers licence is a good skill to have but I wonder if in some ways it’s fighting a natural trend being seen the world over. As we know fewer young people are choosing to get their drivers licence compared with 10+ years ago. This is shown quite well by the Ministry of Transport’s Household Travel Survey.

HTS 25 year - Driver Licences

As our cities develop – especially in Auckland – alternatives to driving will only get better and further reduce the need for many to get a licence and as such the trend is likely to continue. Does this change then put pressure on young people to get a licence and drive more?

The rational is primarily about needing licences to get jobs, something the Auckland Chamber of Commerce have been crucial in pushing for some time.

Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss, who made today’s announcement with Ms Parata, said employers had reported 16-24-year-olds being held back by not having a licence.

“Removing barriers that some young people face in gaining their licence is an ongoing focus for the Government.”

Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, said the changes would help address a skills shortage in industries, such as trades and transport, where the only entry barrier was a lack of a full driver licence.

Just how important is having a licence for most jobs young people would be applying for and how many of those jobs actually involve some aspect of driving? I suspect more of the thinking going on behind this – based on comments I’ve heard elsewhere – is that many employers still view driving as the only reliable way for staff to get to work. I’ve even heard stories of people looked over for a job because they didn’t have a car and therefore couldn’t be reliable despite being within easy walking distance of the employer.

By including licences within NCEA are we potentially encouraging young people to drive more?

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    1. This article may be true for China and India, but for NZ, electric cars provide a great way of reducing emissions. We should concentrate on what is good for NZ. The biggest problem with electric cars in NZ is a lack of enthusiastic new car dealers.

      1. Emissions being driven maybe, but the manufacture of a car is also a huge producer of pollution. Plus issues like there is a lot of oil just in a car tyre. So eliminating the exhaust is only a small part of the problem with vehicle related pollution.

        The best strategy would be to offer a subsidy for converting existing cars to electric. There are no professional dedicated businesses doing that in NZ but it is possible.

        I would imagine most hybrids could be converted quite easily for example with some batteries to replace the ICE and a charger. PHEVs wouldn’t even need the charger.

    2. Looks like they want their cake and eat it, the talk of fuel efficient cars is not going to cut down on CO2 and electric cars are not that much better, if we are serious about climate change the car and road transport need to be priced of the market by high fuel taxes.

      These climate talks are a joke, CO2 at 400 ppm and they are still thinking last century as if we can carry on but just tweet our emissions and the world will a accommodate us, who in their wildest dreams thought up the description of humans as Homo sapiens (wise person) it should be the Latin for idiot animal.

  1. The credits on offer are bugger all incentive to go for the test if the student didn’t intend on doing the test anyway. You may see a higher uptake in non-urban areas than in Auckland or Wellington. Besides, with the prevalence of Cambridge examinations in Auckland, even in the state schools, school-aged kids who take the test won’t be doing it for the credits anyway.

      1. Nonetheless, I think that the small number of credits, by that very fact, won’t be enough of an incentive to take the test. This is from personal experience; I got a couple of credits back in the day just by attending and practically doing nothing on a first aid course for a few hours.

  2. The government should make it a requirement to do some practical bicycle training (both riding and awareness of cyclists when driving) in order to gain the credits. School grounds are an excellent place to simulate and discuss situations like the door zone.

    1. Plus research has shown that children who cycle are much better and safer drivers. Which completely makes sense. If you are used to being the more vulnerable road user, you will be much more cautious and respectful to others.

  3. This from a government presiding over 111% increase on carbon emissions since 1991, a road toll that is, once again, growing and, against all odds, an improved PT network and an exponentially expanding number of urban PT users. You really have to wonder where they’re coming from although I guess they have to fill their egregious Roads of National Significance somehow.

    1. In rural areas (and many National MPs represent such areas) a drivers licence is essential, and there is and will be no other way to get to work.

      1. We managed in the past, before and after WW2 most things went by rail with milk being picked up at the side of the road to be delivered to the rail. farms used horses in those days but battery powered trucks would do for short haul. we are not going to reduce CO2 and methane without some sacrifices.

  4. They really need to put the driving age back to 15 if they want young people to gain Level 1 credits in driving. I never understood the change to 16 or all the ridiculous levels of license. The data didnt back up the change- I think it was just popular to be mean to young people.

    1. Simon that was silly. This isn’t a political party statement. I won’t hire people without licences. We have a variety of company vehicles that form tools of the trade, and if employees can’t use them I have to have someone else drive them? – total inefficiency and it won’t happen. Also as a by the way, my mother never learnt to drive and relied on my father – no problem until he had a massive stroke. Now she is severely restricted in much of what she can do and who she can see. Whether you dislike cars or not, everyone who is capable should obtain a licence, whether they use them or not.

      1. But if the government is funding skills development, surely they should be focusing on something more forward looking than this. An “Hour of Code” programme is going to generate more national income than “Hour of Pizza Delivery”

          1. I see driverless cars, drone deliveries, increasing urbanisation and a growing global commitment to reduce carbon emissions. What do you see to suggest driving will be bigger than ever? All I can think of is catastrophism – civil society breaks down to the point that shared transport services/infrastructure and sophisticated automation can no longer be relied on. For most people Mad Max is a nightmare, not a fantasy

        1. I didn’t say I could see anything. Just that the future might be different from what you see. That’s the thing about the future. No one can see it.

  5. Wait just a minute.

    The graph is entitled “Percentage of Group with Full License”. It is not an accurate measure of teens driving because since standards for Full Licenses have been brought higher, more and more teens are getting as far as their restricted and go no further. I should know – I drive on a restricted license and have done so for over a decade.

    The above graph is merely an indicator and does not provide conclusive evidence of teen driving patterns. I strongly suggest that this article gets re-done incorporating wider licensing data.

  6. Sadly yet another sign that the government mostly think we’re in the last century still. They still think wealth and employment only comes from digging, lifting, and squeezing; sadly everything they do freights this idea, whereas the successful economies do everything they can to produce the ecosystem for more thinking and less humping stuff around.

    The RoNS policy is entirely predicated on the idea of an extractive only economy, as is all the driving and schlepping subsidies and incentives throughout the whole policy spectrum [eg ACC levy cuts for drivers; have people stopped crashing?]

    1. Quiet down, this is transportblog – a site based on the idea of creating economic success by “humping stuff around” (between the hours of 7-9am and 4-6pm in mass transit). It is heresy to suggest this is an economically backwards, relic like mode of business most commonly found in the 19th century.

      1. Actually that economic model is closer to 6000 years old. But, yes, everything is definitely changing. Just like every single generation for the past 6000 years has said.

        And yet… nothing changes. A student of history appreciates that most “disruption” is simply snakeoil sold by those with a vested interest i.e. consultants.

        the world today looks just like the world in 1985 and in 1955.

  7. Well to be honest our current licence is not a qualification. It’s just a pass or I D.
    I think there should be credit’s in the driving license system, but nothing to do with ncea, And drivers should have to sit a few classes and pass a vehicle control test, ie a car on slip wheels. And test things like over steer and under steer recovery etc. And be a replacement for our restricted test.
    Our licence system is way to easy. And hence the high road toll on our good country roads.
    Also young people should not be encouraged to drive unless it’s necessary, ie you live in rural nz
    Or recommended to students heading for the trades delivery and automotive industry.

  8. to get a P endorsement to drive a passenger vehicle, I had to complete two half day courses that gave me unit standards in “fatigue management” and driver requirments for a P endorsement, my employer then put me through first aid courses giving further unit standards, so I guess NCEA credits aren’t inconsistent with that approach

    1. The vast majority will turn sixteen in that year… just as the vast majority will turn 18 in year thirteen. In practice, I doubt this will change much. The people I think are the most likely to not drive are probably the people who are the least impressed with getting credits for driving.

      The suggestion that sticking driving into English lessons is problematic…it seems to merely encourage notions that one learns things at school for use in immediate everyday life, which is a question of the disengaged with education. While the idea itself is fine, although probably unlikely to see, this hypothetical of Parata’s is just another illustration of her unsuitability for the education portfolio.

      And if you are wondering… no, I don’t even have a learner’s, and nor do several of my friends.

      1. While over half of year 11 students will have turned 16 by the end of the year (not the vast majority) a significant proportion will still be 15.
        I agree with your comment re including it in English being problematic.

  9. I’ve chosen to not hire people in the past because they didn’t have a licence. Their inability to drive meant that if i sent them to Auckland to do a job, either they wasted a long time getting from the airport to the location on the North Shore, or I spent a LOT on taxis. Whereas a staff member with a licence is off the plane, getting their equipment from checked baggage and into a hire car quickly.

  10. I think its an ok idea, though I don’t see the point. If young people choose to limit their options, then that is their choice to do so. As long as they don’t blame other people for their poor choices. You don’t have to use the license or even own a car, but having the ability to drive a car safely and legally is definitely an advantage. Like others have said, an employee in certain businesses, without a license can be useless is some cases. It is just another factor to eliminate someone from being chosen for a job. I certainly wouldn’t hire someone without a restricted license. Having a friend that can’t drive is pretty crap to be honest. I have two of them and they expect to be driven everywhere for social events and sometimes I just refuse and tell them to take the non-existent bus, or they expect our group to organise social activities around their limited ability to travel. It is just lazy and selfish.

    1. Well if a lack of a drivers license is a crippling limitation, I don’t think (at least in a city) the right approach is to tell everybody to get a license. You’ll get stuck in congestion anyway. There’s already places right now with congestion at almost any time of the week.

      For youngsters it would help much more to make riding a bike a viable way to get around. Then you don’t have to wait until you’re 16 (or 18 in a lot of places) to finally be able to get around on your own.

      But I agree, if you choose not to get a license, you should not expect other people to be your taxi driver.

    2. Agreed. It certainly is just another factor to eliminate someone from being chosen for a job as I have eliminated people for exactly that reason. I would also say to prospective employee they couldn’t be reliable “despite being within easy walking distance” (what does that mean exactly?). No license is a red flag to being unreliable in other ways too.

      Modern parents and kids who are too lazy for their own good. Dad taught me on the back roads for a wee while and I was at the police station a week later doing the test. Done.

      1. “Dad taught me on the back roads for a wee while and I was at the police station a week later doing the test”

        You’re exaggerating, right?

        And back roads. Surely you have to build some experience driving in town / city centres as well before doing the test. Or did you already have experience with riding a bike or a motorcycle?

        1. Didn’t visit the big city until I was 17 or 18 for a job.Town was easy as the speed was slower than open road. The experience enough for me to pass with flying colours. They don’t build them like they used to!


      2. How old are you John? The driving test now is a lot more difficult than in the bad old days. Older people only needed to sit one test and got a full license. Now we have 3 tests under the graduated system and the tests are more difficult.

  11. I don’t see any reason to not encourage young people to get a driver’s licence. It is just another skill.

    I think this is part of the confusion around owning or being able to drive a car and driving a car everywhere all the time. As with Idiot Hoskings who said that there should be no investment in cycling because NZ owns a lot of cars.

    As the Netherlands so clearly demonstrates, owning cars and using cars are not the same thing. The Netherlands has one of the highest vehicle ownership rates in Europe, higher than the UK ( – despite the fact that around 25% of all trips in the Netherlands are made by bicycle and another good chunk by public transport.

    In fact that is true for most of the European countries on that list with high car ownership. Austria for example has very high usage of PT and growing cycling (c. 5%) while Germany has even more cycling (c. 10%).

    The problem in NZ is not that people can drive cars or that they own cars. It is that NZers do not see any alternative to a car and a significant minority of the time (at least for city dwellers – which the vast majority of us are) that is true.

  12. My god, did I really see some bigots here suggesting that people who don’t have a drivers’ licence are “lazy”? Have you ever been to Wellington? Virtually no-one of my age cohort had a driver’s licence. There was no need for one.

    1. I didn’t say not having license was lazy. It is a choice that people are free to make or not. I said within the context of my friends who couldn’t drive that it was lazy to expect society/others to cater to your needs because you chose not to learn to drive and can’t get around.

  13. Absolutely fine with teens getting licences, but government’s own analysis shows that will have absolutely no positive economic impact. Below is the MoT’s own forecast for us all to drive less but stupidly buy more cars. This essentially an increasingly uneconomic lower asset utilisation rate. This is daft, and sooner or later people will work out that most of the cost of this system is vehicle ownership itself, and as alternatives improve this prediction will, I think, reverse in cities.

    1. Patrick, I agree with your interpretation of this graph and by extension your assessment of the lousy ROI of personal car ownership. However, I question MOT’s forecasting ability. This blog has consistently shown them unable to forecast rain in a rain forest and this graph is driven by one ridiculously straight line.
      My two cents worth on increasing car ownership is that they last too long and once over a certain age unable to be on-sold so we ‘might as well hang onto it for the kids (once they get their NCEA licence), the uncles when they visit, the grand children or to go places we can’t take the company car” etc etc. This drives (pun intended) vehicle ownership up and kmpervehicle down. This pattern is mostly about increasing reliability not being reflected in in reduced demand for new cars rather than entirely about changes in the behaviour of the yoof. By the by, do any of your kids want an aging Toyota, I have a spare one in the fleet? (that I’m struggling to sell)

      1. Haha we have surplus vehicles too right now, about to give them away on trademe.

        But yes I think MoT has likely got both lines wrong: I think vehicle ownership will be flatter and VKT steeper… But both lines depend on how we grow, if AKL intensifies further, like it has been for the last couple of decades then I’ll be right, if all the demand is taken up n Ham, Tau, and Huntly, then MoT will be closer…

  14. I took this to be a move to blunt the growth of a constituency who will demand better public transport because they need it to live.

    Major cities everywhere are centres of growth for populations who don’t drive cars because they have nowhere to park one, face an expensive graduated driver licensing regime and – frankly – they just can’t be bothered.

    One of my two children is exactly this person. They won’t be voting National because National has made it clear they don’t really support public transport as a ‘Key’ priority.

  15. My 16 year old son is learning to drive. We don’t have any public transport where we live and even if we did it wouldn’t take him in the direction of his work. Him not having a license = more road trips as I have to drive him to his part time job, then drive home again, then drive back to collect him and return back home.

    I take PT to work but have to drive 15 minutes to get my PT connection. So I still need a car and still have to drive. (And no, I can’t cycle, damaged cartilage in my knees.) Until Auckland has more population density to justify PT everywhere some people will still need cars.

    Also context: I think the licenses in schools is part of a wider move in education circles to keep disengaged students in the schooling system for longer. Schools offer them tangible reasons for attending – free practical courses and qualifications they would have to pay for if they left school. And at the same time try to connect them with employers. I don’t think this is aimed at middle class kids selecting NCEA courses that will get them into their University degree of choice – so shouldn’t be judged in those terms.

    1. Of course, the car is unrivalled in highly dispersed rural and semi-rural environments. Mostly we are talking about cities here when we discus the shift to decreasing VKT through better alternative connectivity and increased proximity. Always remember that proximity trumps mobility; and cities are always about both, the value of which is pretty much why they exist at all.

      1. “Of course, the car is unrivalled in highly dispersed rural and semi-rural environments”

        Unrivalled? Surely you jest, sir! The ute trumps the car in many such circumstances (must get that old Hilux of mine running…)

  16. Rural areas and certain occupations, absolutely necessary. The view that a vehicle is the only reliable way to get to work I have to question. I’m in education and have never been late to work yet catching the western line train (maybe I’ve been lucky) compared to colleagues who have been late due to ‘traffic’ problems a number of times. The trains are fairly reliable.

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