This thesis explores the decline and transmutation of the apprenticeship system in South Africa, specifically as it occurred in the metal and engineering industry. It proceeds to analyse the most basic and influential imperatives which have driven this process. On the side of capital, these imperatives were the inexorable motive for a profit driven industrial organisation and on the side of organised labour, the imperatives to protect skills, jobs and wages. The existence of the one set of imperatives presupposed the need to redefine the existence of the other set. These contradictory imperatives have shaped the trajectory of the apprenticeship system in South Africa. They were contradictory because the one was an impediment on the untrammelled extension of the other. However, as the imperative of profit maximisation gradually became the predominant consideration in the relationship, it began to exert greater pressure on the character of the apprenticeship system. Within the apprenticeship training system, the imperative of profit maximization prioritised price calculation as the dominant consideration by which decisions and trajectories were chartered.