Can't get the staff?

2004

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."