Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Vocational training and the labour market in liberal and coordinated economies

Document type Article
Author Charest, Jean
Author Bosch, Gerhard
Journal Industrial Relations Journal
Volume 39
Date 2008 09
ISSN 00198692, 14682338
Pages 428-447


In recent decades, the differences between the education and training systems in the liberal and coordinated market economies have increased. It is not possible to understand such different developments by focusing exclusively on the internal dynamics of vocational and general education systems. Vocational education and training (VET), and particularly apprenticeship systems rather than school-based VET, are deeply embedded in the different national production, labour market, industrial relations and status systems. In order to contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of VET, we examine recent developments in general and vocational training and its links to the labour and product market in five contrasting countries, namely, Denmark, Canada, Germany, Korea and the USA. In particular, differences in industrial relations, welfare states, income distribution and product markets are the main reason for the persistent high level of diversity in vocational training systems. The difference can perhaps be summarized as follows: in the coordinated market economies, the modernisation of vocational training is seen as a contribution to innovation in the economy, while in liberal market economies, it is seen as a siding into which weaker pupils can conveniently be shunted.