Can't get the staff?

Sep 24 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Billionaire entrepreneur Philip Green, who most recently hit the headlines with his failed bid to buy Marks and Spencer, is setting up a new retail academy to help teenagers become the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Green said that the London-based college, which he is funding to the tune of £10 million, would offer places to offer places to 200 'motivated' young people who didn't want to go to university.

The Department for Education and Skills is also contributing a substantial amount to fund the project.

"We are finding there is a real lack of talent coming through the ranks. It is very hard to find new people. I want to build a retail academy which will be for 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds, people who don't want to go to university but would like a career in retail," he said.

Green, who left school at 16 and is now worth more than £3.5 billion, said that the UK needed more business colleges. His Arcadia Group, which includes BHS, Top Shop, Miss Selfridge and Burton, employs 40,000 people in 2,300 stores with nearly two-thirds of staff aged under 25.

"The curriculum in school needs to include business; it needs to include different subjects," he said.

"If you ask people why did they go to university, in some cases they say: 'Because that's what you're supposed to do'. I don't think anybody really believes everybody can get to university. That's a fallacy, isn't it?

"If you get underneath it all some of it really defies logic. We take on A-level people and graduates who are three years older but are only earning £500 more. That's quite scary given that it probably costs them £30,000 or £40,000 to get there."

"Three-quarters of the people I interview whose CV looks fabulous are probably the least of the people we employ. They are almost over-educated.

"They don't know anything about business."