An apprenticeship is a program that combines hands-on working with learning and training, all while in full-time employment. Learning while on the job helps an apprentice understand and master their trade, while getting paid.
The seven celebrities listed in this article all started as apprentices, and used the skills and expertise they developed to gain success, prominence and prestige.
1- David Beckham
Beckham had trials with Leyton Orient, Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur, but was signed to Manchester United on his 14th birthday, and eventually joined their Youth Training Scheme as an apprentice.
Beckham went on to win 6 English Championships, 4 English Super Cups, 3 MLS Cup Championships, 2 FA Cups, 2 Supporters Shields, a Champions League, a Spanish Championship, a Spanish Super Cup, a French Championship and an Intercontinental Cup, as well as owning his own perfume and underwear lines, menswear collection, whisky brand and MLS club.
“The only time you run out of chances is when you stop taking them” – David Beckham
2- Jamie Oliver
Oliver left school at 16, attributing his lack of qualifications to the absence of support for his dyslexia. Once he had left, Oliver began an apprenticeship in Home Economics, after discovering his passion for the kitchen in his family’s pub. Once he had received his initial qualification, he began to apprentice at different restaurants around London, and used this experience to open his own restaurants across the UK.
Oliver has presented multiple TV cooking shows, including The Naked Chef, published (to date) 26 books and owns 3 restaurants, with a fourth opening soon.
“I left school with basically nothing, I was a special needs kid. I did feel as though my school had let me down” – Jamie Oliver
3- Stella McCartney
McCartney spent a few years as a tailoring apprentice at Savile Row and once she had finished her apprenticeship, was made Creative Director of Chloe within 2 years.
McCartney has won multiple awards in the fashion industry and was 2009’s Glamour Woman of the Year.
“Now, get out there and kick ass!” – Stella McCartney
4- Gordon Ramsay
Ramsay took an apprenticeship in hotel management, and found his passion for the kitchen, describing his entrance into hospitality as a “complete accident” after an injury ended his football career.
Ramsay now owns 35 restaurants, with a combined 7 Michelin Stars, was presented with an OBE in 2006 and was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame.
“Put your head down and work hard. Never wait for things to happen, make them happen for yourself through hard graft and not giving up” – Gordon Ramsay
5- Ozzy Osbourne
Before he was The Prince of Darkness, Ozzy was an apprentice plumber, earning employability and life skills that lent themselves to his success in the music and entertainment industry.
Ozzy went on to be nominated for 8 Grammys, winning 3, and was presented with the Grammy Lifetime achievement award.
“You’ve got to try and take things to the next level, or you’ll just get stuck in a rut” – Ozzy Osbourne
6- Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly started his working life as an apprentice welder at a shipyard in Glasgow. He says “it was comforting, especially when you’re young, still trying yourself out for size and finding your voice”.
Connolly went on to win a BAFTA lifetime achievement award, was named the number one greatest stand-up comedian by Channel 4, starred in films like Disney’s Brave, The Boondock Saints and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and was knighted in 2017.
“If you give people a chance, they shine” – Billy Connolly
7- Sir Alex Ferguson
Alex Ferguson started as an apprentice toolmaker in Glasgow, where- according to a fellow apprentice- he was renowned for his astuteness and ferocious protection of workers. He was quickly made the shop steward, and his leadership skills would become even more apparent in his later career.
Ferguson went on to become the most successful football manager in Premiere League history, winning thirteen titles, more than four times as many as any other manager. He was knighted in 1999 and remains adamant on the importance of apprentices in the modern workforce, saying of his own apprentices (including Beckham, Giggs and Scholes) “I don’t just get quality… I get loyalty”.
“It’s amazing what can happen when you give young people an opportunity. They thrive on it, they don’t let you down”.
“Apprenticeships today will translate into the skilled workforce of tomorrow” – Sir Alex Ferguson
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