Our purpose is to examine why and how employers manage apprenticeships, from both a political and a contingent approach. Four pairs of companies were studied, each pair embodying one of four organizational configurations – machine, professional, adhocracy, entrepreneurial, along with one of four human resource management (HRM) model – codifying, agreement, individualising, arbitrary. Ninety - five interviews, eighteen days of observation and document analysis were conducted at multiple levels. Findings show that the ways in which apprentices are managed are likely to introduce changes into the ways in which other personnel are managed. Apprentices are not managed the same as other personnel. HRM practices are therefore segmented. Four major apprentice management strategies can be distinguished, variably putting the emphasis on positions, occupations, qualifications, or competencies. While a first contribution of this paper stems from the articulation of contexts, configurations, HRM models and apprentice management practices to understand employers ’ involvement in apprenticeship, a second one is related to change management, a new light being shed on HRM changes