7 Famous People You Didn’t Know Were An Apprentice

There is a common misconception that apprenticeships are only available in careers such as construction, manufacturing and technology, but in reality, apprenticeships are available in everything from fashion design to food to formula one. This means that apprenticeships are a great beginning to a successful career in any job role or industry. The household names in the list below are evidence that apprenticeships are not only diverse, but can also lead to hugely successful careers.


pexels-photo-109669Sir Ian McKellen 

Known best for his roles in X-men and Lord of the Rings, this actor began his career as an apprentice at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. He spent three years at the theatre honing his craft, before going on to become one of the most celebrated actors in Britain.



Jamie Oliver 

After gaining 2 GCSEs at school and an NVQ in home economics, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver acquired numerous apprenticeships at eateries all over London. His apprenticeships gave him the skills and knowledge needed to begin his 20 year long career as a chef. As a result, he has amassed a huge net worth, multiple television series and books, and his own restaurant chain.



Stella McCartney 

This designer, often referred to as ‘Fashion Royalty’ began her career as an apprentice with a tailor on the infamous Saville Row. During her apprenticeship, Stella picked up the skills of the trade in everything from hemming trousers to pattern cutting. Since then she has set up one of the most successful fashion brands in the country and designed the team GB kit for the 2012 Olympics.



Laurence Graff 

Graff is one of the most successful former apprentices in the country, with a net worth of almost £3billion. After leaving school at 15 he became an apprentice jeweller in London in the early 1950’s. After his first employer went out of business, he utilised the skills he had learnt during his apprenticeship and began selling his own designs to jewellers across the country.



Alexander McQueen 

Fashion extraordinaire Alexander McQueen nabbed himself an apprenticeship by knocking on doors on Saville Row as a teenager. The chance opportunity he was given as a teenager allowed him to go on to become the owner of his own fashion house, dress the likes of Prince Charles and Madonna, win British Designer of the Year four times, and be awarded with a CBE for his services to the industry.



Clare Smyth 

Protégé of Gordon Ramsey, and the only woman to run a three Michelin star restaurant, Smyth moved to England from Northern Ireland to pursue her love of cooking at aged 16. She gained apprenticeships in various restaurants across the capital, including one owned by Heston Blumenthal, before moving to work for Gordon Ramsey and working her way up to become head chef at the age of just 29.



George Clarke 

Architect and presenter of ‘Restoration Man’, ‘Amazing Spaces’ and ‘Shed of the Year’, George Clarke began his career in architecture through an apprenticeship he was offered at the age of 16. Alongside his current successes as a TV personality, he also helps to run a scheme that pairs young people with few job prospects, with retired builders who are willing to train them.


And there’s more…

Other notable mentions include Alex Ferguson, Gordon Ramsey, Ringo Starr and Michael Caine. Although some of these apprentices didn’t continue on the career paths they first set out on, it is undeniable that their time as an apprentice will have allowed them to gain employability and workplace skills that ultimately lead to their success.

If you are an employer, and would like to hire the next Stella McCartney or Sir Ian McKellen, you can find out how to hire an apprentice with Creative Alliance here.

If you are interested in becoming an apprentice, you can find out more about the apprenticeships offered by Creative Alliance here.