Governments in advanced liberal democracies have assigned Vocational Education and Training (VET) a critical role in preparing a productive workforce for the broader economy. This linkage opens the way to use economic theories to expand the understanding of VET. Noted economic theorists have described the use of one economic reductionist technique as 'dualism'. Dualism identifies two mutually exclusive categories and is commonly used to reduce complex economic realities into scenarios more amenable to theorisation and computation. This paper examines the continued relevance of this work for the second decade of the 21st century by examining how VET is problematised. The use of dualism to control and limit the discourses in VET, expressed in dichotomies such as competent vs. not competent, skilled vs. unskilled and advantaged vs. disadvantaged, will be linked to how the apparatus for government intervention in training demonstrates remarkable longevity and thrives upon reductionist conceptions of groups of individuals. It is proposed that the limited range of government responses facilitates dualistic problematisation in VET by creating sub-populations, in this case trainees, who are viewed as other than normal and require intervention. This Australian case study will also demonstrate the adaptability and enduring nature of a governmental training apparatus in the face of varying problem populations that are defined by dualistic thinking.