In a number of advanced market democracies the role of public technical and vocational education and training institutions has been called into question. This is one result of a singular dominant public policy discourse favouring the provision of public services through contracting out in competitive markets. With the limitations of this default policy setting becoming increasingly apparent there is an opportunity to identify a new narrative to facilitate a transition to a less contestable training market environment. In particular, the rationale and justification for the direct public provision of vocational education through government-owned and operated institutions can be re-examined in non-market terms. However, the deep penetration of the reductionist and simplistic pro-choice competitive ideation into current policy environments has resulted in a limited, often dualistic, range of conceptual options being used by analysts. This article investigates alternative concepts before settling on the use of institutional logics to articulate the multiple contributions to the provision of the skills and knowledge made by publicly-owned institutions.