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Call for fresh talent to protect butchery industry’s long-term future

A new programme to highlight over 750 potential vacancies in the butchery sector has been launched today by Quality Meat Scotland in partnership with Skills Development Scotland.

With the average age of a butcher in Scotland at 60, the industry needs to ensure there is a pipeline of young trainees coming through to future proof the red meat sector, amidst a serious shortfall of skilled positions.

As females currently represent 14 per cent of current apprentices in the retail butchery sector, the programme will work to remove outdated perceptions and showcase the diverse and accessible range of technical and business skills to be learned through the trade.

Launching on the first day of Scottish Careers Week (15th – 19th November), the careers awareness programme will shine a spotlight on butchery as a chance for young people to learn a craft, picking up skills that range from traditional to those using cutting-edge technologies.

Around 25 per cent of current vacancies are apprenticeship opportunities in the retail, processing and catering sector. The programme will underline the crucial business skills that the career provides, from selection of products and product development to learning about the supply chain, recipe development, pricing, profitability and customer service.

Gordon Newlands, Brand Development Manager at Quality Meat Scotland, said: “Butchery is one of the oldest crafts in the world with genuine heritage and traditions, but we want to show that it can also provide an exciting, pioneering and highly skilled career for young people today. At a time when we are all conscious of skilled labour shortages, butchery presents a huge array of excellent career opportunities. This is a trade where innovation meets tradition to create an industry full of character and camaraderie that will play a critical role in our social and economic future.

“During the various lockdowns over the last 18 months, many of us have rediscovered the joys of visiting our local butcher to get high quality meats. This project builds on this renewed interest to showcase the range of skills, knowledge and behaviours that can lead to rewarding careers in the butchery industry, not only in the UK but across the world.

Gerry McBride, Strategic Relations Manager at Skills Development Scotland, said: “This project has been built to show just how much butchery has to offer young people as an exciting career choice with huge opportunities for progression. We strongly believe that butchery represents a field that is more than just a job, it is an innovative and evolving craft that can unlock a range of exciting careers.

“A modern apprenticeship in this field is a chance for young people to be trained by industry experts, gain a nationally-recognised qualification and earn a real wage while they learn. Apprenticeships also offer a unique opportunity for employers, enabling them to recruit from a fresh pipeline of young talent. There are dozens of roles to suit everyone - from processing and catering butchery to the retail butchers we see on high streets across the country – all of which provide opportunities for stimulating successful and long-term careers.”

The campaign is being supported by a new careers website – www.butcherycareers.co.uk – where potential candidates can learn about training opportunities, read and watch the real stories of young butchers’ careers and explore job postings.

Case study videos featuring different job roles within the industry are also being promoted, alongside social media adverts which will be shared across Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

The programme will also raise awareness of the Government funding opportunities available to support businesses in employing young people.

Case studies

Sean Cassidy, Dunbia

“I applied for a job at Dunbia because it was local and offered a good supporting wage for me and my family. Through this I’ve found a life-long career that offers me an active, hands-on job that is both physically and mentally rewarding. I particularly like the pace of the job - the continuous flow of butchery at its best - all to the highest standards of the industry. From the day I first set foot in Dunbia I was offered constant support and training whenever and wherever needed. There’s always a supervisor on hand for support at any time, and under their training my butchery skills feel authentic and something to be proud of. I’ve been taught skills I never would’ve thought I’d be able to do, and I feel a lot of that is down to the trust of my supervisors in myself and my work ethic. Progressing through the Butchery Academy at Dunbia has allowed me to progress further into the industry with a qualification that opens a lot of doors for my future. I have started from the bottom and plan to work to the top, whatever it takes - I love that there is always a position you can work towards and something to look forward to. Anyone looking to start a career or apprenticeship in butchery should not hesitate. I don’t have any regrets about joining the industry - it’s made me who I am today, all while supporting my family, and I owe everything I know to Dunbia.”

Cameron Chisholm, Hugh Black & Sons

 “I started working in my local butchers as a Saturday boy, but quickly moved into an apprenticeship. I’d been planning on going to university but I really enjoyed working in the shops and interacting with customers. I was keen to learn more about how the finished products were made and develop a career that used focus, skills and hard work. My apprenticeship has really helped me mature, think about what I want in life and how to get there – I’ve massively benefitted from the responsibility it’s given me and seeing first-hand how the rest of the team work. Everybody has been incredibly encouraging, and I know that my assessor is available for one-to-one support at any time of the day – access to help is always available as I continue my training towards my next qualifications. I get a buzz from putting my heart into my work, progressing up the ranks and my ultimate goal is to have my own shop and café. If you’re thinking about stepping into a career in butchery, I say go for it – you’ll never know what’s on the other side of the wall if you don’t jump!”

For more information on careers in butchery visit www.butcherycareers.co.uk