This paper investigates linkages between education and work domains for a birth cohort of British men and women. In particular, the analyses examine Sørensen's conceptualization of open and closed position systems. We investigate one application of these concepts by examining whether open versus closed education systems (i.e., ability group and school type) generate jobs with first employer of differing duration and jobs in open versus closed work position systems. The methodology features a continuous-time discrete-state stochastic model of the transition from the first employer. The data include multiple event histories through age 23 for a 1958 birth cohort of over 11,000 British men and women. In general, we find important differences in the determinants of transitions from open versus closed employment systems. The major differences include gender and earlier life course location in open versus closed education systems and ability tracks. The empirical results only partially support hypotheses in the literature about the timing of transitions (duration dependence) in open and closed employment systems. © 1990 Oxford University Press.