Charlie Mullins from Pimlico Plumbers believes Lord Browne's higher education review could help to address the shortage of skilled tradespeople.

Mullins said: "We've had too many graduates and not enough skilled tradespeople. Surely the only common sense thing to do is cut the supply of one and increase the other? As far I'm concerned that's a great start to solving the problem.

"For more than a decade we have been sleepwalking young people on to the dole, via university, with no thought for the mess we're creating.

"It's all very well for the Milton Group of 'new universities' crying that this will mean some students will decide not to go on to higher education and put these institutions at risk of closure. But surely it makes business sense that if you produce something that nobody wants you'll go to the wall."

Mullins added: "After meeting with George Osborne in Birmingham during the Conservative Conference last week, I'm ever more optimistic that what we've been screaming out for might just come true. Pay employers like me to take on apprentices rather than dumping them on the dole and I'll take on 20 tomorrow, and I know loads of other companies will too."

Charlie Mullins started his business, Pimlico Plumbers, from scratch in 1979 and has since grown it into a multi-million pound enterprise.