JCB chairman tops list of wealthiest ex-apprentices

12th August 2011 at 01:00
City amp; Guilds hopes `skillionaires' will inspire others to succeed without a degree

A vocational rich list has named the chairman of JCB as the country's wealthiest ex-apprentice, with a fortune of pound;2.15 billion.

Sir Anthony Bamford, whose career began with a two-year apprenticeship at Massey Ferguson before he took over the construction equipment company, topped the list of "skillionaires" - Britain's wealthiest people who have taken apprenticeships or other vocational qualifications.

The rich list was compiled by Philip Beresford, the creator of the annual Sunday Times Rich List, for City amp; Guilds and WorldSkills 2011, the international skills competition being held in London for the first time in October.

While Sir Anthony's father founded the company which he now chairs, second place on the list goes to a self-made man: Laurence Graff, the "king of diamonds".

After leaving school in the East End of London at 14 and becoming an apprentice to a Hatton Garden jeweller, Mr Graff has built a fortune valued at pound;2 billion.

Last November he broke the record for the world's most expensive piece of jewellery with the purchase of a pound;28.8 million pink diamond.

His diamond business is worth pound;1.7 billion, with the rest of his wealth consisting of homes in Gstaad, London, Cap Ferrat and New York City, a 150-foot yacht, a Stellenbosch vineyard and a pound;125 million art collection.

Others named in the list include City amp; Guilds-qualified celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in 33rd place with pound;106 million, Dragons' Den star and businesswoman Deborah Meaden with pound;40 million in joint 63rd place with fashion designer Karen Millen, and Stella McCartney (pound;15 million).

At 36 years old, Mr Oliver is the youngest of the top 100 vocational millionaires. A fortune of pound;10 million is required to make it on to the list, with fellow chef Gary Rhodes, another former City amp; Guilds student, bringing up the rear.

Former engineering apprentices make up 24 of the top 100, while the most represented industries were high tech companies, property and construction, and the leisure industry.

City amp; Guilds said they hoped the publication of the list would highlight the success of people who did not attend university and inspire young people to achieve.

Chris Jones, director general of City amp; Guilds, said: "Our latest vocational rich list proves you don't need a degree to succeed. The list not only celebrates the success of Britain's leading businessmen and women, but also serves as an inspiration to others to discover their talent and unlock their potential through vocational education and skills training. Many of the contestants at this year's WorldSkills London event have done just that and I have no doubt that one day we will see some of their names on the list."

Also on the list in 49th place was Britain's wealthiest plumber, Charlie Mullins, who founded and runs Pimlico Plumbers and whose wealth is estimated at pound;55 million. He left school at 15 with no qualifications before taking up an apprenticeship.

"That was a mistake - I should have left at 14," he said, describing his apprenticeship as the best thing he had ever done. Now his company employs 180 people and has a turnover of pound;15 million a year.

He said: "Not everyone wants to be a leader or to run a business. But knowing a trade means you can have a job on a stable basis for life, and run your own business if you like. We need tradesmen more than ever, not just pushing towards everybody going to university."


The top 10 vocational achievers

1. Sir Anthony Bamford. pound;2.15 billion. Chairman of JCB. Former apprentice with Massey Ferguson.

2. Laurence Graff. pound;2 billion. Chairman of Graff Diamonds. Former apprentice with Hatton Garden jeweller.

3. John Caudwell. pound;1.5 billion. Founder of Phones4U. Former Michelin apprentice.

4. Sir James Dyson. pound;1.45 billion. Chairman of Dyson. Qualified in industrial design at the Royal College of Art.

5. Sir Terry Matthews. pound;1.4 billion. Founder of over 80 telecommunications companies. Former Post Office research department apprentice.

6. Jim McColl. pound;570 million. Chairman and chief executive of Clyde Blowers engineering company. Former apprentice engineer.

7. Trevor Hemmings. pound;550 million. Leisure tycoon who owned Blackpool Tower and Pontins. Former apprentice bricklayer.

8. Sir David McMurtry. pound;450 million. Chairman and chief executive of precision engineering company Renishaw. Former apprentice with Rolls- Royce.

9. Sir Arnold Clark. pound;430 million. Chairman and chief executive of Arnold Clark Motors. Former apprentice shoe designer.

10. Steve Morgan. pound;400 million. Chairman of Redrow builders. Studied an Ordinary National Diploma in civil engineering at Liverpool Polytechnic.

Original headline: JCB chairman tops rich list that reveals wealthiest ex-apprentices

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