• vocational training policy;
  • skills policy;
  • employer engagement;
  • skills;
  • qualifications;
  • complexity;
  • regulation

Vocational training systems that take the needs of the word of work seriously and maintain strong and dynamic connections with it are faced to growing complexity and instability. Some countries try to cope with this through creating new mediation mechanisms between the systems of training and work that allow higher level complexity while maintaining appropriate social control over the linkages between these systems. The training policy of the United Kingdom offers an interesting example for this. The key message of this article is that increasing complexity and high level instability may seriously impede the engagement of employers for training and human resource development but reducing it have to be made in a cautious way, so that it does not harm the achievement of the strategic goals of making training more demand-led, making it more responsive to the changing skills needs of companies and letting employers have a decisive role in determining the content of training and the way it is delivered. The skills policy of the United Kingdom is used as an example to illustrate the growing social complexity that characterise modern social systems, including vocational training, and one specific way of devising public policies based on new innovative forms of steering and regulating that enhance coping with complexity and instability.