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The future aspirations of trade apprentices have important implications for further supplies of skilled labour. An interview survey of 89 engineering apprentices in Auckland, New Zealand, revealed that the majority intended to travel overseas following qualification, and to move into occupations not directly connected with their trade. Few intended long-term service with their training organizations, and large institutional settings were generally rejected. These results are interpreted as supporting a trend towards ‘post-materialist’ values among young people, and are in direct contradiction to fundamental assumptions concerning employee commitment on which the apprenticeship system is based.