Institutional Change in German Vocational Training: From Collectivism toward Segmentalism

Kathleen Thelen and Marius R. Busemeyer

in The Political Economy of Collective Skill Formation

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199599431
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731518 | DOI:
Institutional Change in German Vocational Training: From Collectivism toward Segmentalism

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This chapter argues that the German system of vocational training is changing in subtle but significant ways from a strongly collective system based on broad and portable occupational skills toward a segmentalist one based on increasingly differentiated skills more closely aligned to the internal needs of large companies engaged in training. In order to develop the argument, we first discuss the two logics of collectivism and segmentalism and briefly revisit the sequence of steps that have enabled a collective system to prevail historically over segmentalist interests in Germany. Following Streeck and others, we argue that the centralization of collective bargaining has been crucial to the maintenance of a collective training system, and we show how increasing flexibilization of bargaining (through decentralization and declining collective bargaining coverage) has been accompanied by heightened pressure for a flexibilization of training as well. State policy is accommodating these pressures, thereby reinforcing trends toward segmentalism. The final section considers the implications of these developments in the context of the growing dualism within the German labor market more generally.

Keywords: Apprenticeship; Collective wage bargaining; Corporatism; Germany; History; Inequality; Institutional change; Vocational education and training

Chapter.  12955 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Knowledge Management

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