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The role of education and training in the development of technical elites: work experience and vulnerabilityWhilst education and training systems in Europe have provided qualifications preparing candidates for highly skilled, responsible occupational roles, early research indicated that firms preferred to promote to such positions internally. Following changes to labour markets, several countries now place greater emphasis on early workplace learning, in the hope that transitions to work will be eased by experience of workplace environments. The outcomes of these shifts were explored through case studies in England of provision where work-based learning provides a high level of course content. Whilst students and educators ascribed value to these early experiences, evidence emerged of a narrowing of skills taught in work settings and em-phasis on behaviours and attributes. This emphasis is reflected among disadvantaged groups such as young women preparing for service roles: this paper argues for attention to the vulnerabilities of these groups, whose exclusion contributes to the reproduction of ‘elite’ occupations.