Career Development Benchmarks: Secondary

The Career Development Benchmarks: Secondary are a self-review tool for secondary schools to assess and improve the quality of their career development programmes and services.

Purpose of the benchmarks

Students perform science experiments in a school laboratory

The benchmarks help schools assess and improve their career development programmes

The secondary benchmarks aspire to improve the quality and consistency of career development nationally, and provide a common understanding in the education sector of effective career development practice, to support successful student transitions.

Development of the benchmarks

The secondary benchmarks were reviewed and revised in 2014 to ensure they remain relevant and useful.

They are research-based and aligned to other education initiatives, and the review process followed the same robust consultation processes we used in the development of the entire suite of benchmarks.

We are committed to regularly reviewing and updating all the benchmarks. See the development, references and bibliography sections of the secondary benchmarks for more information.

Alignment with the Standards for the Teaching Profession

The Tertiary Education Commission and the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand have worked together to align the Career Development Benchmarks: Secondary with the Standards for the Teaching Profession.


The benchmarks use three dimensions to describe the contributions career development services need to deliver for all ākonga (students) to build their career management competencies. All the dimensions connect, and when collectively engaged, support successful transitions for ākonga.  


There are six standards for the teaching profession that describe the expectations of effective teaching practice. All the standards connect and collectively represent the full and complex nature of teaching. When all the standards are present quality teaching is apparent. 


Aligning the standards and the benchmarks identifies examples of career practice you can use in your professional learning conversations. This will help build a stimulating, challenging and encouraging environment that promotes learning and success for all learners. 

Structure of the benchmarks

The Career Development Benchmarks: Secondary are one set in a suite of three benchmarks. Each of the three sets of benchmarks is structured to include four key dimensions for effective career development practice. The dimensions are integrated and designed to work together to achieve successful student outcomes.

Student career management competencies

The central focus of all the benchmarks is the outcomes dimension: student career management competencies. It describes the career management competencies students need to develop during their years of education to successfully manage their transitions.

The three other dimensions describe the inputs required to ensure career development programmes and services enable all students to build their career management competencies.


While strong and effective leadership has an impact across all the dimensions, the leadership dimension directly encourages active and committed leadership to support a school-wide approach to career development.

Programmes and services

The programmes and services dimension encourages a school-wide approach to developing student career management competencies. It covers how documentation, planning, information systems and resources support high-quality career development programmes and services.


The transitions dimension encourages effective processes to help students move successfully into and through secondary school, and on to further education, training and employment. The development of community networks and partnerships that support the development of career management competencies in a variety of contexts is also strongly linked to the concept of transitions.

Using the benchmarks

The benchmarks acknowledge schools are self-managing. They are a flexible tool that enables schools to use the self-review approach that best suits their needs.

The benchmarks are designed to be used collaboratively across the whole school by school trustees, principals, curriculum leaders and teaching staff.

We suggest you select one key dimension for initial review rather than work through all dimensions at one time.


Are you interested in sharing examples of effective practice in your school? We are looking for specific examples linked directly to the benchmarks so schools can learn from each other about the different ways of developing practice. To share your story or give feedback, please email us at

Updated 7 Jan 2021