Many of the UK's most affluent millionaires are growing richer despite shunning academia in favour of craft skills to earn their fortunes, it emerged yesterday.
According to the third City and Guilds Vocational Rich List, which ranks wealth by those who built their fortunes on a vocational qualification or apprenticeship, business is booming.
The annual rankings established that the collective wealth of the nation's top 25 craft millionaires has soared by nearly £2.4 billion in just two years - from £2.7 billion in 2003 to £5.1 billion in 2005.
For the third year running, Staffordshire-based telecoms magnate John Caudwell secured the top spot - with an estimated fortune of £1.28 billion.
London- based diamond mogul Laurence Graff (£750 million) was ranked second in the list, compiled by Sunday Times Rich List author Philip Beresford, while former hairdresser John Frieda (£180 million) was seventh
Celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay, (both said to be worth £20 million) tied for 25th spot, with Gary Rhodes (£6 million) placed 31st.
Commenting on the list, the director-general of City and Guilds, Chris Humphries, said: "We're delighted to see that the number of craft millionaires on this year's Vocational Rich List has grown significantly and has a billionaire in its midst.
"Far from feeling hindered by a lack of academic qualifications, they have worked hard to gain practical skills at a young age, which they have used to their advantage.
City and Guilds awards 1.3 million certificates to learners each year in more than 500 subjects ranging from catering to manufacturing.