Educational institutions, especially those facilitating vocational education and training (VET), face the challenge to combine social goals such as the provision of quality education for a broad share of the population with rising economic utility demands. What is less known is how social and economic goals are actually institutionalised in VET. Our paper aims to further unpack this puzzle by analysing short-track dual training programmes in Denmark, Germany, and Switzer-land. These target candidates who face difficulties entering full-length dual programmes. Thus, short-tracks are prime examples of training institutions located at the nexus of economic and social demands. In our institutional-comparative analysis, we focus on the regulative (rules), normative (standards), and the cultural-cognitive (legitimization by key actors) institutional dimensions of short-tracks. We find cross-case and within-case variation of the institutionalisation of social and economic goals. While Danish short-tracks are more socially oriented, the institutionalisation of the German and Swiss short-tracks is marked by economic-oriented interest from the employers’ camp.