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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 September, 2004, 23:06 GMT 00:06 UK
Green plans 10m retail academy
Philip Green
Philip Green decried a "lack of talent" in UK business
Billionaire entrepreneur Philip Green has announced plans to set up a 10m retail academy, to help overcome a "lack of talent" in UK business.

The owner of the Arcadia Group, which includes the high-street store BhS, said he wanted to create "motivated" company bosses of the future.

The academy's 200 students would be aged 16 to 18 and be trained in "every aspect" of retail, Mr Green said.

Arcadia is also providing sponsorship for 50 specialist business schools.

'Centre of excellence'

Mr Green said: "I want to build a retail academy. The academy will be for 16, 17 and 18 year olds who don't want to go to university, but would like a career in retail."

The curriculum will include marketing, design and finance.

Mr Green said he hoped other industries would follow the example of creating a "centre of excellence which will create the next great entrepreneurial talent".

His plans were backed by Education Secretary Charles Clarke, who said the specialist schools initiative and the plans for a national retail academy were "historic".

The Arcadia Group is also putting up 1.25m for the specialist schools.

This will fund half the 50,000 sponsorship each comprehensive school has to raise to bid for specialist status.

Mr Green, worth an estimated 3.6bn, said: "We need more business colleges, generally. The whole area needs expanding.

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

There was a lack of "logic" behind a lot of people's decisions to go to university, he said.

Mr Green, who left school at 15 to go into the rag trade, 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'."

He added: "I don't think anybody really believes everybody can get to university. That's a fallacy, isn't it?

"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."

Earlier this year, Mr Green abandoned his high-profile 9.1bn takeover approach for Marks & Spencer, having failed to gain the cooperation of its board to allow him to study the firm's accounts.

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