More skilled young butchers needed

Demand for skilled butchers is on the rise and big meat processing companies are finding it difficult to recruit young skilled butchers, a Dorset-based butchery tutor has said.

Christopher Leyland, butcher assessor, tutor and coordinator at Kingston Maurward College (KMC) told that the demand for skilled butchers was not being met, with some large operators seeing no applicants for jobs.

“The need for skilled butchers is starting to increase,” he urged. “Lots more people want to take on new butchers and we have found that older butchers are, well, getting older and leaving the trade with no one to replace them.”

Leyland, who has been in the business for decades and has owned his own shop for 30 years in Malvern, has worked with KMC for the last four years.

“Both ABP and DB Foods want apprentices. One big firm advertised a job but due to lack of skill, nobody came for it,”  he said. “We’ve got six to eight apprentices at the moment and there are a lot of large companies wanting them.”

The tutor explained that apprentices on his course work in shops and come to college for one day a week. This way, he explained, they have something to look forward to, as well as having the opportunity to learn the theory alongside the practical.

“They learn about charcuterie, smoking and they go to slaughterhouses so they can see how the meat is slaughtered and cut up. We also take them to the farms so they can see the meat from the start to the end. We are learning as a college [too] and we are hoping to get more and more apprentices and more people trained up.”

Leyland also explained that the apprentices come from all walks of life and may not have thought about butchery as a career before they end up on the course. “Some have been washing-up for years and some have Dads who own shops – they come from all walks of life.”

He added that doing an apprenticeship and spending one day a week at college enlightened the future butchers to the work that goes into the product they will end up selling. “There is so much more to standing in a shop, they learn all sorts of things about the trade, lots of different techniques and many lifelong skills,” he said.


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