3 min reading

Five iconic apprentices

You only need to switch on your TV or scroll through Instagram to see where an apprenticeship can take you. From Michelin Star chefs to fashion royalty, some of Britain’s most successful celebrities started out as apprentices. Ready to discover the power of on-the-job learning?

Sir Ian McKellan

Going to drama school is one way to get into acting, but apprenticeships have proven to be a great launchpad for others. Sir Ian McKellen began his career as an apprentice actor at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, where he gained first-hand experience working on and off stage. Ian has since starred in countless Shakespeare productions and award-winning films like The Lord of the Ring and X Men.

Photo: @ianmckellan on Instagram
Photo: @ianmckellan on Instagram

Jamie Oliver 

Before Jamie Oliver became The Naked Chef, he was a catering apprentice – honing his craft under the mentorship of Gennaro Contaldo at London’s Neal Street. This experience allowed Jamie to explore many styles of cooking and eventually discover a passion for Italian cuisine. In 2008, the chef opened the first of many Jamie’s Italian restaurants, which earned him an MBE for services to the UK hospitality industry.

Photo: @jamieoliver on Instagram
Photo: @jamieoliver on Instagram

Karren Brady

Best known for her role on the BBC’s The Apprentice alongside Sir Alan Sugar, Karren Brady has had an impressive career since completing an advertising apprenticeship at Saatchi & Saatchi. After just one year at the agency, Karren’s hard work was recognised with a promotion to Advertising Accounts Executive, which set her on the path to Sport Newspapers and becoming a Director at the age of 20.

Photo: @karen_brady_official on Instagram
Photo: @karen_brady_official on Instagram

John Frieda

Ever wondered how the name John Frieda became synonymous with hairdressing? After falling in love with cutting hair at his father’s salon, John bagged an apprenticeship at Leonards – a famed London salon of the late 1960s – where he would meet his future business partner Nicky Clarke. The collaboration started as a single salon on Marylebone Road and ended with a multi-million pound acquisition of the stylist’s hair care range.

Stella McCartney

Challenging the preconceptions that come with being the daughter of a famous musician, Stella Mcartney sought out her own career path by completing a fashion design course at Central St Martins. After university, Stella wanted to learn more about the craft of tailoring, so she became an apprentice at Edward Saxton on Savile Row. This experience inspired the signature, structured style that catapulted the designer to fashion royalty.

Photo: @stellamccartney on Instagram
Photo: @stellamccartney on Instagram

Feeling inspired? Explore career starter apprenticeships based on your interests and location at www.apprenticeships.gov.uk/apprentices

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