Maisie Roberts

Maisie Roberts


I am a final-year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded PhD student, based in the Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change (CERIC). Previously, I completed my MA in Human Resource Management (2014/15) within the department, graduating with Distinction. My PhD is a comparative analysis of the English and German apprenticeship systems. It draws upon over 100 interviews with policy-makers and training experts as well as two in-depth case studies in the chemical sector with interviews with apprentices, managers, union representatives and training providers. During my PhD, I also completed a 3-month ESRC-funded Institutional Visit to the Policy Analysis and Political Theory group at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Overall, my research seeks to understand how apprenticeship systems respond to on-going policy reforms and institutional changes and the consequential impact of these changes within the workplace, on employers and apprentices.


Research interests

I am broadly interested in the areas of apprenticeships, skills, vocational education and training, international and comparative employment relations, comparative political economy and the future of work.

My PhD research explores the changing dynamics of the English and German apprenticeship systems and I am particularly interested in their national institutional differences. The English and German systems take different approaches, reflecting their respective market-driven and corporatist models Germany has a long established dual system, where both firm and vocational schools provide highly structured training; the system is supported by a strong institutional network of social partners, including trade unions, employers organisations and the state. Conversely, Englands system is voluntarist, with limited monitoring and regulation, and has undergone repeated political attempts to reform the system. There are a number of open questions about how the systems are likely to evolve in the future. England is currently increasing its investment into apprenticeships, particularly through the recently introduced apprenticeship levy, which means that all businesses with a paybill of 3 million will need to pay a tax of 0.5% of this towards investment into apprenticeships. Germany, on the other hand, is experiencing an increasing provision and popularity of higher education, with many young people choosing university studies over apprenticeships. Equally both countries are on the path of adapting their skills and apprenticeship training strategies in line with knowledge-intensive technological change with the rise of industrial digitalisation associated with Industry 4.0 (or the fourth industrial revolution) initiative. Current developments therefore highlight a potential for convergence, with England focusing efforts into strengthening national intermediate skills and apprenticeship participation and Germany increasing investment into general education and higher education. My research therefore asks: How are the English and German apprenticeship systems changing, and, how are these changes shaped by their national institutional contexts? I adopt a qualitative approach to examine the changing dynamics of both countries apprenticeships systems through industry case-studies, secondary data analysis and semi-structured interviews with policymakers, opinion-formers, industrial experts and businesses.



  • MA Human Resource Management (Distinction)
  • BA (Hons) Cultural Studies (First class honours)

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change