So, you have decided you want to do some formal training – whether it be for you or your staff. Where do you start? This article is designed to assist you to navigate through the various training opportunities and providers, and assist in understanding options and pathways available to companies wishing to engage in training. It will also debunk some of the myths and misinformation that surround security training.

What training do I need?

Mandatory training.

The mandatory training is provided by a number of training providers around the country with some delivering two-day classes for the three unit standards and some delivering one day classes with the rest being completed at home. Currently there is only one provider running a fully national programme with regular classes although some providers may deliver in more than one region.

National Certificate in Security Level 2 (NCIS Level 2).

This is the entry level qualification that allows you to gain basic industry knowledge including OSH, fire safety, First Aid, law, personal and professional requirements of the security industry, interpersonal and operational communication skills, risk and emergencies, observation skills and threat identification, customer service, operational requirements, crowd control and entry and exit control. It takes between 4 – 7 months to complete vocationally and if attending full time classes may be up to 12 months if combined with the NCIS Level 3. Many security contracts require guards to either have completed the Level 2 or be working towards it. This qualification has been replaced by the New Zealand Certificate in Security Level 3, with the last date for entry to this programme being December 2019.

National Certificate in Security Level 3 (NCIS Level 3).

After completing the NCIS Level 2, you are able to enrol for the NCIS Level 3. This qualification builds skills and knowledge in security areas including protective security, emergencies and critical situations, terrorism, interaction with the legal system, electronic equipment, managing violence and personal safety, lawful use of force, management of security incidents, breaches, and suspects. One strand (or endorsement) must be chosen to complete the qualification and the eight available strands are Site, Event, Mobile, Retail, Community Security, Court Security, Noise Control and Secure Transport. It takes between 4-7 months to complete this vocationally and if attending full time classes may be up to 12 months if combined with the NCIS Level 2. Once having completed the NCIS Level 3 with one strand, you are then able to go on and complete other strands individually. As the strand assessments mainly require practical work-based assessments, it is best to choose the strand for the area you or your guards are currently working in.  This has also been replaced by the New Zealand Certificate in Security Level 3 with the last date for entry to this programme being December 2019.

National Certificate in Security Level (NCIS Level 4).

This qualification is designed for those either in leadership positions or wanting to move into leadership positions within the security industry e.g. team leaders, senior security, operations managers and so on. You can complete this after the NCIS Level 3 or you can enter into a programme directly without having completed any previous security qualifications. The programme includes knowledge and skills in topics such as protective security, law, interaction with the legal system, managing incidents, breaches and suspects, health and safety, problem-solving, investigation processes and preservation of evidence, management and leadership, risk assessment and minimisation, emergency management (CIMS), and change management. There are two strands – Team Leader and Senior Security. However, there are inherent issues with the makeup of the Senior Security strand and this is rarely offered. It takes between 13 – 15 months to complete and very few security training providers offer this programme , with only one offering it as a distance programme nationally. It too has been replaced by the New Zealand Certificate in Security Level 4 with the last date for entry to this programme being December 2019.

National Diploma in Security Level 6.

This is intended for professionals within the industry who work in roles such as security risk managers, corporate managers of security functions, departmental security officers, security consultants, sales roles requiring security survey or risk assessment skills, investigative work in the corporate environment, and insurance assessors who assess security risks. It takes between 12 and 24 months to complete depending on how you space out the assessments. The skills and knowledge gained through this programme include developing operational security plans, interpreting and applying security law, producing security risk assessments, conducting security surveys, and developing security policy and procedure. The qualification also allows for an elective project that can be tailored to your particular area of work or responsibility. There are very few providers offering this qualification and only one nationally. Some providers that are still advertising the qualification no longer have the capability to do so. This qualification has been replaced by the New Zealand Diploma in Security Level 6 with the last date for entry to this programme being December 2019.

Internal vs external training.

Once you have decided what level of study is right for you there are a few options you can take.

Option 1. As an employer, you can enter into a Recognised Training Workplace (RTW) agreement with the industry training and standard setting body – The Skills Organisation (Skills). This involves having staff who are designated workplace assessors supporting your guards to undertake national qualification training within the workplace. This requires a considerable commitment by the company as you will need to have someone who is responsible for managing the programme according to Skills requirements for assessment. Many companies employ someone into this role exclusively whereas other companies have staff who have this function as part of their role. Subsidy is attached to this scheme with conditions around progress and completions. However, if you don’t have the resources or skill within the company, this may not be the scheme for you. To find out more contact The Skills Organisation on 0508 SKILLS (0508 754 557).

Option 2. The second option is to hold an RTW contract with Skills and to engage an external provider to do the training, manage the learners and liaise with Skills. Subsidy is also attached to this based on progress and completions, but you will need to pay the provider whatever the difference is between the subsidy and the course fees they charge for their services. Some providers also require payment in full up front. The benefits of using an external provider include reassurance that the provider adheres to the strict regulations required for registered NZQA Private Training Establishments (PTE) in NZ and that they have qualified instructors who must have teaching and assessing qualifications to be able to work for a PTE.

Option 3. Skills pays the subsidy directly to C4 Group (C4) in Auckland and they run a distance programme nationally for all the national qualifications. This means that you or your staff can sign up with C4 to do the qualification, and once completed, C4 return that subsidy to you or your staff (depending on who has paid the fees for the programme). Both companies and individuals can take advantage of this scheme. For more information please phone C4 on 09 6367329 or email at


Choosing a training provider.

Once you have decided to use an external training provider there are a few options and here Google is definitely your friend.

NZQA lists 32 PTE’s that have consent to assess against the security unit standards for Levels 2, 3, 4 and 6. Not everyone has the same accreditation i.e. not everyone delivers all the qualifications, and not every listed PTE is currently delivering any security training. Many PTEs only deliver full time courses which isn’t a viable option when a guard is employed. Some organisations that have accreditation for Level 2 only do so in order to deliver the mandatory training as the 3 unit standards required (27360, 27361 and 27364) are part of the Level 2. Very few training providers in NZ deliver distance programmes and only one provider has a full national programme from the Bluff to Cape Reinga. There are very few training providers who have the capability of delivering all of the certificates and the diploma, so if you or your staff are considering a progression plan through the levels, it is better to find a provider who can deliver them all. Also important is whether or not they are able to formally support your staff with literacy and numeracy programmes that are either embedded within the qualifications or run alongside.

The most important aspect of choosing a provider is around their performance as a PTE. NZQA audits PTE’s heavily every 3 years and this is known as an External Evaluation Review (EER). The EER result is divided into 4 categories and indicates the confidence that NZQA has in the organisation’s educational achievement and also their ability to self-assess i.e. ongoing quality assurance processes. So, what do the categories mean?

Category 1 – NZQA are highly confident in the PTE’s educational outcomes and their ability to self-assess. Only 5% of PTE’s throughout NZ (regardless of what training they deliver) have been awarded a Category 1 grading. These PTEs are guaranteed to deliver excellent training with strong administrative infrastructure to back this up.

Category 2 –   NZQA are confident in the PTE’s educational outcomes and their ability to self-assess. This is where the majority of training providers sit and once again, deliver great training programmes with good administrative processes

Category 3 – NZQA are not yet confident in the PTE’s educational outcomes and their ability to self-assess. At this level, PTEs are effectively ‘performance managed’ by NZQA and can only continue to deliver their programmes under the mentorship of a Category 1 PTE. There are also other sanctions which involve them being able to assess and/or develop new programmes. These PTEs are on a 1 year audit cycle and must have implemented a plan to address their shortcomings which is monitored closely by NZQA over that year.

Category 4 – NZQA are not confident in the PTE’s educational outcomes and their ability to self-assess. PTEs with a Category 4 rating will have severe limits on what business they are able to continue with and risk being closed down altogether.

We are very lucky in NZ that the majority of our security training providers have been rated as Category 1 (18/32) and Category 2 (14/32). In the past 2 years there has only been 1 Category 3 provider and no Category 4s. The following table gives the names and ratings of all the current security training providers in NZ.

Name of PTE Category
C4 Group Ltd 1
Corporate Academy Group 1
Horowhenua Learning Centre 1
Ignite Colleges 1
Industry Training Solutions Ltd 1
NZ Training Institute 1
Otago Polytechnic 1
People Potential Ltd 1
Skills Update Training Institute 1
Turanga Ararau 1
Te Wanaga o Aotearoa 1
Vertical Horizonz 1
Waikato Institute of Technology 1
Yoobee 1
Activate Training Centre Ltd 2
Apostolic Training Centres Ltd 2
Chivalry Training Providers 2
EnterpriseMIT Ltd 2
Learning Post 2
National Council of YMCA’s NZ 2
Polyethnic Institute of Studies 2
School of Business Ltd 2
Southland YMCA Education 2
The Learning Place Ltd 2
The Salvation Army Education and Employment 2
Wellington Institute of Technology 2
YMCA South and Mid Canterbury Inc 2
New Zealand Security Association 3

NB: 13.09.2017 NZSA have now completed the NZQA performance management requirements and have regained their Category 2 status.

As new EERs are completed by NZQA, these are listed on their website and PTEs may have moved from a Category 2 to a Category 1 due to their hard work over the last 3 years, or they may have moved from a Category 3 to a Category 2 because they were able to meet the performance management outcomes set by NZQA over the previous year. Similarly, PTEs can slip in the categories.

So rather than spending hours trying to navigate the myriad of options available, just follow this simple checklist:

  1. What sort of training do I need?
  2. How do I want to do this?

If you choose an external provider.

  1. Do they deliver everything that I need?
  2. What NZQA category are they and what were they at their last EER? (Get hold of their EER through the NZQA website – they make for very interesting reading and you will be able to see their last EER category result)
  3. Are the courses full time or part time/ classroom based or by distance?
  4. What are the costs and what funding options are available?
  5. What support will they give me/my company to achieve the qualification?
  6. Are they able to provide formal literacy and numeracy support for me/my staff?


For further information regarding training and training providers contact:

The Skills Organisation 0508 SKILLS or

New Zealand Security Training Association (NZSTA)

NZSTA also provides more information on the different member PTEs as well as contacts.