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Since the mid-1990s, governments of different political persuasion have tried to reform VET policy to address problems in skills formation and social inclusion. Despite considerable policy activism, success has been somewhat limited, and England failed to overcome the problems associated with its liberal training regime. This article assesses the failure in vocational skills formation as a political economy and a public policy problem. It challenges the determinism in the political economy literature, points to poor public policy-making, and outlines possible policy levers.