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Berkshire's Campbell West urges government to focus on schools to promote apprenticeships

The Business Magazine article image for: Berkshire's Campbell West urges government to focus on schools to promote apprenticeships
29 November 2023

The owners of Berkshire-based heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) firm Campbell West welcomed the Chancellor's announcement last week about boosting apprenticeship training but urged the government to do more to promote the message in schools.

In the Autumn Statement, Jeremy Hunt pledged to boost apprenticeship training in engineering and other growth sectors in a £50 million pilot scheme.

READ MORE: Bracknell-based Campbell West launches electrical division

Steven Campbell and Daniel West both left school at the age of 16 to embark on plumbing apprenticeships and founded Bracknell-based Campbell West in 2017 and now worth £10 million.

West said: "We know from personal experience that a good apprenticeship can be a ticket for a bright future for young people.

"But it borders on heart-breaking when young people come to us after undertaking college courses with certificates that aren’t worth the money they are printed on when they enter the real world.

"If the Government wants to get bang for its buck, then it needs to focus on guidance for 15 and 16-year-olds so they’re more aware of what apprenticeship can offer so they don’t waste their time on inappropriate courses."

Campbell added: "Our company is strongly committed to supporting the development of young people through apprenticeships, so we welcome the Chancellor’s £50-million training stimulus

"But we are concerned that there is still a lack of awareness of apprenticeships – primarily the learning-on-the-job aspect - as a route to a role in engineering.

"Our concern is that students are being directed to desk-based courses which don’t equip learners sufficiently for the working world.

"As part of this new funding, we want to see a light shone on what apprenticeships can offer school-leavers."

Their company has strengthened its workforce along with its air-conditioning offer and invested £10,000 in two members of their team.

Frank Smith and Tommy Gill bolstered their skillset by completing a new starter refrigeration course at Ellis Training in Hertfordshire.

The company has also earned key ISO (International Standards Organisation) 9001, 14001 and 45001 certification which demonstrate overall commitment to continuous improvement.

Campbell West designs, installs and maintains mechanical and electrical systems, such as heating and cooling, plumbing, ventilation, lighting, fire and security installations.

Its initial focus was on the healthcare sector but has since expanded its reach into other industries, including local government, education, data centres and large residential projects.

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Giles Gwinnett is a writer at The Business Magazine. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and covered a vast array of topics at a range of media settings - in print and online. After his NCTJ newspaper training, he became a reporter in Hampshire before moving to a news agency in Gloucestershire. In recent years, he has been covering the financial markets along with company news for an investor-focused web portal. His many interests include politics, energy and the environment. He lives in Dorset.

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