10 famous people who were apprentices

Apprenticeships have been around for centuries, originally in manual trades such as stone masonry, painting and plumbing. They’ve come a long way and below are some familiar faces who started out their careers as an apprentice.


Jamie Oliver - Like many chefs, Jamie started his career as a catering apprentice. After leaving school with only two GCSE qualifications, his apprenticeship has definitely helped him to succeed in his chosen career.

Sir Ian Mckellan - Sir Ian didn’t go to a drama school like most other big-name actors, but instead he completed a three-year apprenticeship at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry.

Karen Millen - The famous designer started her career as an apprentice, studying at the Medway College of Design in Rochester. She also sold t-shirts to her friends on the side, before opening her first shop.

Stella McCartney – Like Alexander McQueen, McCartney started her fashion career as an apprentice tailor with Edward Sexton on Savile Row.

Sir Alex Ferguson "It is only when you had the opportunity to have an apprenticeship did you realise the long-term benefit. Anyone who had that experience will have appreciated the skills they learned” Sir Alex Ferguson was an apprentice tool worker in a shipyard before he became one of the most successful football managers of all time. He actually went on to start his own apprenticeship programme at Manchester United, featuring the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs.

Alexander McQueen - McQueen left school at 16 with an O-Level in Art. He had already started making dresses for his sisters, but persuaded tailors on Savile Row to take him on as an apprentice tailor.

Terry Matthews - Wales’ first billionaire tech magnate. Terry started his career as an apprentice in research with the Post Office.

George Clarke – Best known as the presenter of The Restoration Man and Amazing Spaces, George started his career as a professional architect by taking an apprenticeship in Architecture.

John Caudwell – The founder of Phone4U, who sold the company for £1.5bn in 2006. He started his career as an apprentice engineer at the Michelin Factory.

John Frieda – Probably the most famous hairdresser in the world, John Frieda started out as an apprentice hairdresser.

10 famous people who were apprentices

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