From education to employment

City & Guilds Publish Rich List; Apprentices Topping Wealth Table

Traditionally, in the same was as the FE sector in general has been sneered at by those with no inclination to actually think, apprenticeships have also fallen on hard times in terms of image.

The snobbery of the so ““ called elite who consider the world to begin and end at the front door of Oxbridge has generally regarded FE as a whole as a poor relation to the “hallowed halls”. Recently, there have been a number of initiatives to improve the image of FE. Such as, for instance, the popular television show “The Apprentice” hosted by Sir Alan Sugar. The benefit accrued for the image of apprenticeships through this show was somewhat offset, of course, by the unfortunate comments regarding “dumbkopfs” being the ones in FE Colleges.

Richer for the Experience

A report issued by the City & Guilds awarding body has revealed the bright future that can await an apprentice. The table, the fourth such prepared by the City & Guilds, has found that the wealth of the top 50 individuals to make their money from a vocational or apprenticeship background has trebled. In 2003, the collective wealth was £2.7 billion; this year it has been declared at £8.1 billion. The list is headed by telecoms giant John Caudwell, with a fortune of £1.6 billion. Following him is Lawrence Graff, once an apprentice in Hatton Garden’s famous diamond street in London and now possessing a fortune of £1.3 billion. Also on £1.3 billion is the owner of the Celtic Manor Resort, Sir Terry Matthews.

Celebrities who have started in the vocational world include music icon Eric Clapton, worth approximately £35 million, football management legend Sir Alex Ferguson (who started as an apprentice welder at Gavon Shipyard) who is worth £20 million (presumably through a combination of his salary and his involvement in horse racing), and Billy Connelly, worth £10 million. Celebrity chefs who have sautéed their way onto the list include Gordon Ramsay (£35 million), Jamie Oliver (£25 million) and Gary Rhodes (£10 million).


The number of women appearing in this list has also increased. Amongst those present on the list ““ representing a doubling of the number of women compared with last year’s list – are fashion designer and entrepreneur Vivienne Westwood, and Stella McCartney, whose past includes an apprenticeship at Christian Lacroix and at Savile Row.

The Director General of the City & Guilds, Chris Humphries, commented on the release of the list, saying: “What is clear from the list is that most of these vocational millionaires are self-made and that some have used their vocational backgrounds as successful launch pads for their careers.”

He continued, pointing to the importance of inspiring young people to participate and persevere to realise their potential and dreams: “They are truly an inspiration to those school leavers who choose not to go down the university route and who may feel their career options are limited, which is clearly not so.”

Jethro Marsh

Count the cost with FE’s opinion in From the FE Trenches!

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