Butchers offer great career opportunities

While youth unemployment is on the rise, the opportunity for work-seeking youngsters within the booming butchery trade has never been greater.

With the country’s focus on the Chancellor’s Budget, and the need to boost employment and get the economy moving, a new report has revealed the great scope of opportunity for young people within the independent butchery arena.

According to a survey carried out to support National Butchers' Week (25-31 March), around two-thirds of butchers are facing succession difficulties and are crying out for hard-working youngsters to step up to take the trade into the next generation. 

The opportunities for youngsters to enter a thriving sector, and learn genuine master craftsman skills has never been stronger; sales within the independent meat trade are booming as consumers look to the expert advice from butchers for cheaper, but tastier cuts of meat.

Competition within the retail trade for youngsters is tight, and butchers are concerned they are losing out to what youngsters perceive as sexier retail options. But with unemployment high, the trade is using this year's National Butchers' Week to flag up the breadth of opportunity within the business.

Ed Bedington, editor of Meat Trades Journal, which organises National Butchers' Week, said: "Our survey did raise some serious concerns when it comes to succession for butchers, particularly those without a family member to take on the businesses reins. However, while some may see a concern, we prefer to think of this as an opportunity.


Youngsters looking for work should be clamouring to join the butchery trade as it offers great opportunities, from recognised skills and qualifications, right through to creating your own business empire for the truly ambitious young butcher.

"We've seen lads as young as 19 set up their own businesses and turn them into thriving chains – the only limit is the amount of ambition and drive that any young butcher has. It's time for the meat industry to step up and be seen for what it is – a serious, exciting, dynamic and successful part of the UK economy, and something more people should consider for a career."

The fact the sector is bucking the more general trend of decline within the retail market is yet another sign that the value of the high street butcher is being recognised by consumers. While Tesco appears to be slipping, three-quarters of butchers surveyed by MTJ said they were enjoying buoyant sales, with demand for cheaper cuts of meat and specialist products especially high.

“It is going to be a real challenge for traditional, skilled professions such as butchery to entice a new generation of workers, but with a positive outlook and the opportunity to thrive, we think there has never been a better time for youngsters and career advisors to take a second look at the butchery trade,” Bedington added.

The report is being backed by National Butchers’ Week ambassador Henry Herbert who, along with his brother Tom, is fresh from starring in the popular Channel 4 series The Fabulous Baker Brothers.

 Henry, a trained chef and butcher, runs Hobbs House Butchery alongside his brother’s Hobbs House Bakery in Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, after rescuing a local butcher’s from extinction as it, too, had no accession plan in place.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” said Henry, “and has given me a great platform for all the other work that I’ve gone on to do, including starring in my own TV show with my brother, appearing on numerous cookery shows and just generally having fun telling people about great food.

“Learning a trade like butchery gives you a great base to go and do whatever you want to do, as well as giving you job satisfaction and a feeling that you are providing people with a really worthwhile service.”

Meanwhile, the National Butchers’ Week report also highlighted how sales of cheap cuts of meat were up by as much as 40%, with offal, mutton, oxtail, brisket, pork belly, and beef cheeks, skirt and shins among the star performers.

Henry, who has released a host of austerity-busting recipes from the newly released The Fabulous Baker Brothers book to back National Butchers’ Week, including a delicious Cassoulet, homemade Slider Burgers and Devilled Lamb’s Kidneys, added: “Sales of cheap cuts have rocketed in the last year as the economic downturn has bitten people’s budgets ever harder.

“National Butchers’ Week is a great opportunity for people to remember the great service and array of meats that can be found at the local butcher.

“It’s also a great opportunity for us butchers to remind people of the expertise we have to offer, including knowledge we are just bursting to share about different cuts of meat and how to prepare them. National Butchers’ Week is also an opportunity for us to remind everyone how great-tasting, homemade dishes, using meats that can sometimes only be found at your local butcher, don’t have to cost the earth and often just a couple of pounds.”

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