The Future 100 - who got grants of between pound;2,000 and pound;10,000 to finance a City and Guilds course - were whittled down from 14,000 applicants. In fact 101 winners lined up at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich this week after the panel decided they couldn't separate the last two candidates for a grant.
The winners, aged from 17 to 61, will study everything from floristry to photography and furniture-making to fibre optics. Ten have chosen management qualifications and six will train to become FE teachers.
Bob Coates, City and Guilds' director of sales and marketing, said the idea of the scheme was inspired by the wording of the Royal Charter awarded to his organisation by Queen Victoria on 26 October 1900. This talks about "advancement in sciences and fine art" and doesn't mention education. He said:
"We realised that, over and above our work in qualifications, we are about offering people life chances."
Paul Gostolo, from Sheffield, was a supervisor at Leeds railway station and although well paid for the long hours he worked, he wasnt happy.
After 11 years on the railways, he gave up his job and now works as a driver for a local cancer hospital. He is studying for a City and Guilds national vocational qualification in health and social care.
"It was a hard decision coming off pound;20,000 (a year) but this has helped me so much. The main thing is I get home happy."
Pauline Byers, a health service manager from Derbyshire, will use her grant to study for a management diploma to further her work raising awareness of sickle cell anaemia and other blood disorders.
David Croft was a chef and karate expert when he was paralysed from the neck down in a diving accident at the age of 21. He plans to use the grant to produce a guide to improve disabled access.
Several winners travelled from abroad. Faustina Nhenga, a lecturer in motor vehicle engineering at Kwekwe technical college in Zimbabwe, has overcome gender prejudice to do her chosen profession but is determined to become a training manager.
Suzette Ellims, from New Zealand, aims to combine her teaching certificate with her love of decorative fabrics by working as a tutor. "It was basically a hobby - I never thought I could make a living from it."