It’s National Apprentice Week! To celebrate those brave enough to dive straight into training, we’re looking back over some of the most famous apprentices in history. Fancy yourself as text-book fodder? You better get cracking then…
5. Alexander McQueen
After leaving school at 16, legendary designer Alexander McQueen began an apprenticeship as a tailor on Saville Row with Anderson and Shepherd. It was there he learnt the solid tailoring skills that would stand him in excellent stead when he came to designing his own work. As his skills grew so did his curiosity – he completed another internship with theatrical costume designers Angels and Bermans, and considering he went on to win Young British Designer Of The Year FOUR times (that’s four more than we’ve won it), it’s safe to say he chose his path well…
4. John Frieda
Who would have thought that sweeping up the unwanted hair of the masses would lead to a global style empire? John Frieda, that’s who. Beginning his career by helping out in his father’s hairdressing salon after school, Mr Frieda went on to launch one of the most prestigious hair-care brands in the world, selling his products all over the globe, as well as becoming personal stylist to some of the world’s most famous hair. Not to mention the celebrities underneath.
3. Henry Ford
You might expect that the man who revolutionised the motoring industry might have had some natural origins in engineering – but no. Henry Ford’s family were in fact farmers in Michigan, and young Henners left the toils of the field in order to take up an apprenticeship as a machinist in Detroit as a spritely seventeen year old. The two year scheme allowed him to learn the fundamentals of automobile engineering, and it wasn’t long before he was unleashing his own ideas about personal transportation upon the world. His first invention was lovingly named ‘The Ford Quadryical’, and the rest (as well as that name, thankfully) was history.
2.Vincent Van Gogh
Not only is this a lesson in the value of apprenticeships, it’s also a lovely reminder that knock-backs should only make you stronger. Vincent Van Gogh became an apprentice with an art dealer group called Goupil and Cie in his late teens, and though he worked for and travelled with this company for a few years, he was roundly fired in March of 1876 , deciding that the church was to be his true vocation. But, unable to overcome his love of beautiful creations (and dismissed from the clergy for ‘over-zealousness), he began painting in his late-twenties, inspired by the art his had come across in his earlier years. The lesson? Go with your instincts. Except when it comes to violence upon your own ears.
1. Benjamin Franklin
You’ve probably heard of our ol’ pal Ben, casual inventor of the lightning rod, of bifocals, of being one of the Founding Fathers, among other towering achievements. But every genius has to have origins, and Mr Franklin’s was in learning from his brother James as a printing apprentice aged just 13. When James Franklin was imprisoned for publishing apparently libellous content to his newspaper, it was left to Benjamin to run the business himself. Not only was he able to establish himself as a wonderful writer, his inventing instincts were stretched; introducing new methods of casting and publishing to the world at large. And, of course, this was all just for starters…
Are you aged 16-24, and know you are destined for marvellous things? Then you are very much eligible for an apprenticeship. Stop waiting for skills and experience to come to you, and go and grab it for yourself. Happy National Apprentice Week, and best of luck to you legends of the future.