There was a time when the dividing lines were clear between jobs which needed thinking workers and ones which were so routinised that thinking was an unnecessary and even unhelpful skill. All of you who are involved in planning and delivering vocational education and training programmes know that more people than ever before are expected to be able to adjust their performance to accommodate everyday variations in task demands. Faced with a non-standard task or situation, they should be able to respond effectively. This helps define an important aim for vocational education and training in both the school and post-school sector. This aim is the development of thinking skills which are necessary and sufficient for flexible and adaptable performance of work tasks. Such skills also enhance learning, thereby offering the potential to improve levels of achievement. The notion of 'vocational A levels' implies a vocational curriculum which develops complex thinking skills.