New figures show most of the students at 60 per cent of the institutions in the Government's Youth Guarantee Scheme fail to get a qualification in their first year.
Introduced in 2010 to keep 16 and 17-year-olds in education by giving them free vocational courses, the Government provided $52.7 million for 4000 places in 2010 and 2011.
In its first year, 18 institutes of technology and polytechnics, and 10 private institutions offered courses. But 2010 completion and qualification rates for institutes of technology and polytechnics, the most recent data, show less than half of the students qualified at 11 of the institutions.
At Unitec, Northland, Otago and Tairawhiti polytechnics, and the Christchurch, Waiariki and Waikato institutes of technology, less than a third qualified. Data for private institutions was unavailable.
The figures have led Labour to call for a review. Tertiary education spokesman Grant Robertson said while it was unrealistic to expect everyone to pass, the rates called into question whether the programme was working. "There are the best of intentions here. These are people who are struggling and we acknowledge they need support, but is this the right programme?"
Funding worked out at $13,175 a student, including $500 a head for pastoral care such as mentoring or parental/whanau involvement.
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said the low rates were because about half the students were on two-year courses, and others started one-year courses mid-year. "The numbers are much lower than you'd expect normally, and I'm confident they will go up significantly."
- Sunday Star Times