Young butcher talk

A new apprenticeship training scheme has helped a young Warwickshire butcher gain the skills he needs to equip himself for the demands of his work.

Craig Roberts, 21, and his employer Ragley Estate Meats, initially ran into difficulties when the business had problems finding Craig a suitable training provider to help him develop the skills he needed. However, the new National Apprenticeship Service was able to forge a partnership with Hartpury College, Gloucestershire and came to the rescue.

Now, Craig is reaping the benefits of a structured, work-based training framework after initially starting work on the Ragley Estate as a casual driver and odd-job man.

"I'd shown I was reliable and willing to work hard, so they suggested training me up as an apprentice butcher," says the 21-year-old. "I was really keen, so it was very frustrating that I couldn't get started until we'd found the right training provider.

"I was very grateful to Ragley for being so persistent on my behalf because it's working well - I'm learning a lot about the different food preparation skills, products and customer relations, just by working in the shop most of the week. Meanwhile, I'm getting all the background in topics such as health and safety and food hygiene one day a week at college.

"Best of all, I'm earning while I'm learning the skills I need for a new career. It's the best of all worlds really."

Craig is being supported by colleague Richard Caston, an experienced butcher inspired by his younger colleague to train as an apprenticeship assessor.

There are over 22,000 apprentices in the West Midlands area working and developing new skills in 90 different professional subjects areas through the National Apprenticeship Service.

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