The route into lower and even middle management in West Germany for non‐graduates, all of whom will have completed either a technical or a commercial apprenticeship, is described. The apprenticeship system itself is depicted in brief, but the main body of the article is devoted to the higher vocational qualifications which hold the key to a career in management. It concludes with a discussion on whether or not the holders of these higher vocational qualifications should be regarded as lower or middle managers, and contrasts the upward permeability of West German companies with the situation for similarly‐qualified personnel in France.
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