Between 1972 and 1986, real public spending on continuing training in France grew by a factor of 2.5 and expenditures by firms by a factor of 2.3 (BIPE, 1988:37). It is a common assumption among French planners that within twenty years or so, 10 to 15 per cent of working time will be absorbed by vocational training. The future is unlikely to be very different in the former Federal Republic of Germany (hereafter Germany), in Italy or the United Kingdom. Where such a large commitment of scarce resources is at stake, the choice of financing instruments to promote both internal and external (allocative) efficiency becomes a high priority policy issue.