Richest former apprentices revealed

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A new rich list ranking 40 of the UK’s wealthiest former apprentices has been released, showing a collective fortune of £20 billion.

The list commissioned by AAT includes celebrities such as Jamie Oliver (£240m), David Beckham (£210m) and Ozzy Osbourne (£130m), as well as top entrepreneurs such as hairdresser John Frieda (£150m).

JCB Chairman Lord Bamford came top of the Apprentice Rich list (£3.15bn) having started one of Britain’s most successful family-owned businesses following an apprenticeship at agricultural equipment firm Massey Ferguson, followed by Laurence Graff who founded Graff Diamonds (£3bn) after becoming a jewellery apprentice at the age of 15.

Entrepreneur John Caudwell who started Phones 4 U (£1.5bn) before selling it in 2006 came a close third after starting his career as an engineering apprentice at the Michelin tyre factory in Stoke-on-Trent.

Some of more unusual entrants on the list include musician Eric Clapton (£150m) who completed an apprenticeship in stained glass design before becoming one of the most celebrated guitarists of all time, and rich rocker Ozzy Osbourne (£130m) who spent time as an apprentice toolmaker before making his fortune with Black Sabbath.

Other former apprentices that didn’t make the top 40 but have still gone on to have successful and lucrative careers include celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey (£20m) who worked as a catering apprentice and green-fingered Alan Titchmarsh (£10m) who gained an apprenticeship at Ilkley Park before becoming a writer and television gardener.

The Apprentice Rich List will come as a surprise to parents who fail to see the earning potential of apprenticeships, despite reports suggesting people with an Advanced Level Apprenticeship earn on average £100,000 more over the course of their career than those without. Of the 2,000 adults surveyed,  30% said they were unsure or would not encourage their children to take on an apprenticeship with ‘low pay’ cited as the main reason.

The manual labour myth was also evident throughout the research with construction, electrical and plumbing revealed as the sectors most associated with apprenticeships. In fact 41% of youngsters said they did not know of apprenticeships in professions such as accountancy and law. Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of AAT, commented: “The 2015 Apprenticeship Rich List shows not only that some of the country’s most successful individuals have come from an apprentice route, but that not all apprenticeships are in the industries you might expect.”

The benefits apprenticeships can bring to individuals are clear, with AAT’s Apprenticeship Rich List illustrating the incredible wealth on offer to hardworking and successful workers. However, apprenticeships can also offer many and varied benefits to the UK economy as a whole. A report by the Centre of Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has revealed apprenticeships are set to deliver over £100 billion to the UK economy by 2050.

These new findings come on the back of the recent pledges made by the Ed Miliband and David Cameron both promising to increase the numbers of apprenticeships if they are elected in May.

To read the full report ‘Apprenticeships – a good career choice’ please click here.

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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