Flexible manufacturing systems, team work with decentralisation of decision-making, integration of tasks and multiple allocation across functional barriers demand a skilled work force prepared for continuous learning and adaptation. It is common to see a younger, well-educated and trained work force as being required for such a production environment. A closer empirical look at most of the internal labour markets in this study shows that existing labour market structures do not match this image. Existing labour markets consist very often of an older (and ageing) labour force with relatively low skills and with resistance to continuous training. These structural features have, over the last ten years — despite the existence of costly early retirement measures and new entries into internal labour markets — not much improved, and in many cases have even deteriorated.