Academic/vocational divisions are a feature of all education systems and have a history that goes back far beyond the beginnings of mass public education. My interest in the issue arose nearly 20 years ago when I was involved in establishing the Post 16 Education Centre at the Institute of Education. However, it is not insignificant that it was at a time when UK policy makers were beginning to consider whether such divisions, at least in the form that they took in England, were barriers to improving the level of skills and knowledge in the workforce as a whole, rather than a structure that had to be taken for granted.