Training Credits were launched, as a set of pilot schemes, in 1991 and were claimed by the government to symbolise a ‘revolution’ in attitudes towards training in Britain. By 1996, all school leavers in the country will be issued with Training Credits, usually in the form of a small plastic credit card which entitles them to spend approximately £1500 on their vocational training. The main aim of the scheme is to introduce a market into post‐16 training whereby it is hoped young people will become more motivated to improve their vocational qualifications through increased feelings of ownership and control. The intention is also that they begin to exercise choice in the market by shopping around to find the best quality training provided by local employers.
We examine the early progress of the scheme by interviewing a small group of young people in Northumberland about their experiences of Training Credits. Whilst some aspects of the initiative are working well there is cause for serious concern about some of the broader objectives of Training Credits and the short‐term operation of the scheme. We conclude the article with a number of recommendations including, for example, the suggestion that Training Credits should be extended to all 16‐19 year olds. Bridging the divide between academic and vocational qualifications may be easier to bring about if all post‐16 students and trainees are given equal financial provision.