Lack of butchery apprentices creates skills shortage risk

The meat industry is at risk of a serious skills shortage, according to the managing director of catering butcher Yorkshire Dales Meat Company, who is calling on the new government to implement a clear strategy when it comes to apprenticeships. 

James Knox said he was concerned that there was not enough awareness among young people about apprenticeships, making it tougher for meat companies to recruit the next generation of employees.

According to Knox, there is a general unease across the butchery industry that not enough young people are being attracted into the sector.

Knox said: “I don’t want to be seen to be critical, but I do feel that there was a lack of real, focused and consistent strategy in terms of apprenticeships during the coalition, especially in regards to traditional industries like ours.”

He said Yorkshire Dales employed plenty of skilled butchers in their 30s or 40s, but that it lacked that next generation of young, local butchers.

“Part of the problem is that we don’t think people are being told about butchery or other food industry skills as potential career paths or apprenticeships.

“As such, we would encourage the newly elected government to create better strategy and communication around apprenticeships – especially at a local level – to help safeguard the future of industries like ours.”

According to the new Conservative manifesto, the coalition government created 2.2m apprenticeships over the past five years, and the new government said it wanted to create a further three million over the next five years – including trebling the number of food, farming and agri-tech apprenticeships.

For more on this story see the next issue of Meat Trades Journal, out on 22 May.

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