Pepper Culpepper and David Finegold (eds.), The German Skills Machine: Sustaining Comparative Advantage in a Global Economy, New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1999, £56.00, xii+482 pp.
Peter Raggatt and Steve Williams, Government, Markets and Vocational Qualifications: An Anatomy of Policy, London and New York: Falmer Press, 1999, £16.99, x+220 pp.
These two books complement each other in their studies of vocational education and training (VET) policy. Current German policy debate, like English VET policy in the 1980s, is haunted by the ghost of the apparently perfect performance of German VET in the 1980s and its role in producing a high skills high wage economy. The benefits of paradise were always unevenly distributed to ‘outsiders’, but the rewards for German male skilled workers were impressive. I wonder though whether the almost universal approbation of the German VET system at that time, by policy makers and commentators from other countries, was at least partly influenced by the fact that it was a system where those interested in VET were themselves considered important. They were not pushed to the margins as so often happens elsewhere. Here was a system where those interested in VET were treated with respect.
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