improve issue

Improve has reacted to criticisms levelled at it for failing to consult retail butchers on the Sector Skills Agreement (SSA) by Douglas Scott, inviting him to represent Scottish butchers as a member of its Scottish Stakeholder Group.

Improve chief executive Jack Matthews said his organisation was continuing to refine the initial core structure of the SSA for food and drink manufacture, "and even when completed, it will continue to evolve in response to changing needs".

However, Scott said he felt there had been no research by Improve in the retail butchers' sector, even though it claims to have contacted 75 butchers. "I am happy to be corrected if they can tell me with whom they have been in touch." He added he would continue dialogue with Improve to resolve any differences, but would not be happy if Improve retitled meat and poultry qualifications

N/SVQ Food Manufacture.

A meat training company in England has also lambasted Improve for failing to meet the industry's needs. Jane Dale, head of Meat Training Ipswich, accused Improve of "a terrible dilution of standards", saying it was looking at general food and drink qualifications and was not bothered about the needs of the meat industry. "To properly consult, you need to say where the industry is now and where it is going. Improve has done neither," she said.

Despite a shortage of butchers, Improve was not listening to trainers like herself, Dale added, saying the meat industry needed people with butchery qualifications, not general food processing ones. She could not see the reason for rushing out level three criteria and accused Improve of dumbing down qualifications. "Level two has been made easier to enable people who do not have ability to achieve. Basically they have made a pig's ear out of it, while spending millions of pounds of our money."

A spokeswoman for Improve denied the qualifications were any easier. While not denying the retitling to food manufacture she said a consultation would take place before this went ahead.

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