14th July 2020

Crafty move: Lockdown school leavers should carve a career in craft butchery

Lockdown has highlighted the skills and abilities of the butchery industry and its people, which have continued to operate, adapt and deliver in a crisis situation. As school leavers review their options, Gordon Wallace, Quality Meat Scotland board member and SVQ trainer and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) are calling on young people to consider the apprenticeship and career opportunities offered by craft butchery.

Mr Wallace, who is heavily involved in the training and development of craft butcher apprentices working with Craft Skills Scotland, and delivering Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ) and lecturing in the Hospitality and Leisure faculty of the City of Glasgow College, said:

“Lockdown has provided that rare resource - time - to reflect on how much we depend on the skills, tenacity and commitment of the key crafts and industry that populate our farm to fork food chain, keeping us well-nourished. Amongst those presently making their mark are our craft butchers and my hope is that they, in turn are creating a positive impression on our school leavers. There may never be a better time to attract newcomers into the industry. While physically and mentally demanding and not for the feint hearted, craft butchery is a rewarding and fulfilling career and the apprenticeship training instils skills for life.”

Apprenticeships allow young people to earn while they learn and, in butchery, placements could be in a small retail shop up to a large processor. As well as the core craft knife skills, the training includes how to be creative with cuts and respond to consumer demand, the importance of provenance and traceability, customer service skills and meeting the practical and legislative demands of  of state-of-the-art craft butchery operations.

The red meat industry has continued to operate throughout the pandemic, albeit in a different way, and businesses are telling us there will be apprenticeship opportunities going forward, explains Gerry McBride, Strategic Relations Manager – Food & Drink at Skills Development Scotland:

“Many young people will be feeling anxious about their future and finding a job during an economic recession is harder than any other time. Training, upskilling, work-based learning and apprenticeships will have a crucial role to play as we move towards economic recovery and we will be adapting to ensure that skills and education are delivered in an innovative way and making the most of technology and digital where it works. I would urge young people to look at the apprenticeships offered in butchery and the variety and reward of working in the trade.”

Craft butchery apprenticeships can include a mix of training on-the-job and in the classroom. Employers are encouraged to promote their apprenticeship vacancies at www.apprenticeship.scot. Anyone interested in finding out more about apprenticeships can also find information there.


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