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Six famous people and the training courses that got them there

Newsflash, it’s not all about going to university and getting that degree. Don’t believe us? We’ve taken a look at six of England’s most successful names and the training that got them there.

Jane McGuire
12th February 2016
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Whether you’re hoping to head into the cookery sector, or train as a jeweller, these stories prove it’s not all about a university place.


Jamie Oliver

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Did you know, the man who revolutionised school dinners didn’t exactly excel when he was wearing the uniform?  Leaving school with two GCSE qualifications in Art and Geology, a young Mr Oliver went to Westminster catering college, (since renamed Westminster Kingsway College) to study a City and Guilds qualification in home economics. Leaving with an NVQ, this successful graduate would go on to get a job as a pastry chef, before being noticed by the BBC in 1997.



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Graduating from the BRIT school for performing arts and technology in 2006, Adele Atkins and her fellow classmates Leona Lewis and Jessie J all set out into the music industry. Just four months later, her demo was heard on Myspace and she was signed to the XL Recordings label. Needing no further explanation, it’s safe to say Adele has made it.


Alexander McQueen

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Before his tragic death in 2010, Lee Alexander McQueen had a prestigious reputation in the fashion world for creating an impeccably tailored look. He always credited his skills to his apprenticeship with Savile Row tailors Anderson and Sheppard when he was aged 16. McQueen would go on to work as chief designer at Givenchy for five years and found his own highly successful fashion label, which lives on in his legacy.    


Mary Berry

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Described as ‘hopeless’ in secondary school, a young Mary Berry found solace in her domestic science classes. She then went on to study catering and institutional management at Bath College of domestic science. At aged 22, Mary studied a City and Guilds course in the evenings, whilst working Dutch Dairy Bureau, before going to France to study at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school. More than 70 cook books later, Mary is an advocate of furthering your education with training courses.


Karen Millen

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The face behind one of Britain’s most famous high street brands, Karen Millen studied fashion at Medway College of design (now called University of Creative Arts). Proving that you don’t need to wear a graduation cap to graduate in the fashion world, Millen left college and founded her company with a loan of just £100.


Laurence Graff

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With a net worth of $5 billion dollars, it’s safe to say Laurence Graff is one of England’s most profitable jewellery designers. Aged 15, Graff entered the Schindler’s Jewellery Workshop in London’s Hatton Gardens as an apprentice. Twelve years later, he had two jewellery shops, including one down the road from Schindler’s. In 1960 he would set up Graff Diamonds, which would go on to sell diamonds all over the world.


Are you ready to start writing your own success story? Browse our comprehensive list of training courses, covering a wide variety or sectors and find the one that suits you best. Who knows, we might be adding you to this list sooner than you expect. 

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