In November 2013, two news articles appeared in the span of three days that captured perfectly the conflicted international status of the German model. The first piece to appear was in Spiegel Online, which ran a major story detailing the coalition agreement that had just been hammered out between the centre right (CDU/CSU) and centre left (SPD) negotiating teams. The article highlighted the apparent internal contradictions of the future government’s pledges simul - taneously to raise the minimum wage, lower the official retirement age, and hold the line on tax increases – all while preaching austerity to the rest of Europe. The message was as clear as the article’s title – Germany is no longer a role model for Europe. Two days later, in the ‘Business Day’ section of the New York Times, an article appeared that showcased several successful industrial apprenticeship programmes in South Carolina that have taken their inspiration from the experience of the German vocational training system. Here, too, the underlying message was clear – Germany is worth emulating.1