Lives of the rich and famous that began with vocational training

9th May 2003 at 01:00
A "RICH list" of people who made their millions after vocational training has been drawn up by an awarding body. City amp; Guilds claims the "Vocational Rich List", its version of The Sunday Times' league table of the wealthy, shows that training can make fortunes.

While traditional apprenticeships have launched many on the path to riches, the careers of those who get a mention go far beyond the world of engineering. Although talk of "parity of esteem" between vocational and academic qualifications continues to be popular on conference rostrums, City amp; Guilds says the case for learning a trade can be made more starkly - in terms of hard cash.

Its list includes people from the worlds of fashion, information technology, restaurants, transport and property.

The tongue-in-cheek table of Britain's big-earners is topped by John Caudwell, the mobile phone entrepreneur, who is worth an estimated pound;840 million and started out in life as an engineering apprentice with Michelin Tyres in Stoke-on-Trent.

Before starting his apprenticeship, Mr Caudwell left school after a year of A-levels and had various jobs, including nightclub bouncer and cleaner in a pottery.

Chris Humphries, director general of City amp; Guilds, said: "What is clear from the list is that, for these individuals, a vocational qualification has been the foundation stone for extraordinary financial and commercial success.

"Far from being hindered by a lack of A-levels or a university education, these craft millionaires have worked hard to gain practical skills at a young age."

Number two on the list is Trevor Hemmings, who made his fortune through the leisure industry and property. He is worth an estimated pound;480m and owns the Blackpool Tower, as well as the Winter Gardens, another landmark of the seaside resort. He started out as an apprentice bricklayer.

More famous, perhaps, but less financially flush is Alan Titchmarsh, the country's favourite gardener, who comes in at number 24 at pound;10m.

Mr Titchmarsh started his working life with Ilkley parks department, followed by an apprenticeship at the more illustrious Kew Gardens in Middlesex. He speaks fondly about his experience as an FE student and was awarded the Association of Colleges' Gold Award for his achievements as a BBC presenter and writer.

Jamie Oliver, the chef, at number 23, is said to be worth pound;10m. He says he started with a national vocational qualification in home economics before being talent-spotted.

Some of his new-found wealth has been poured into Fifteen, his London restaurant staffed by trainees with no previous experience, the subject of a recent television series.

Gary Rhodes, another TV chef, is 25th on the list and said to be worth pound;6m.

He wanted to be a police dog-handler but was forced to learn cooking so he could look after his younger sister when his mother was at work. He took a City amp; Guilds cookery course at a technology college.

From the world of fashion, designer Alexander McQueen stands out, with a personal fortune estimated at pound;20m, at number 16 on the list.

The son of an east London cabbie, he worked in a pub before getting an apprenticeship in Savile Row, London.

He then studied fashion at St Martin's School of Art in London. He has been associated with fashion houses such as Gucci and Givenchy.

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