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Mission to recruit young butchers as industry vacancies soar

The young team at Bathgate butchers, Hugh Black & Sons.

The meat industry is on a  mission to recruit trainee butchers in a bid to help fill more than 750 potential vacancies in Scotland.

A campaign launched in Careers Week will highlight the range of technical and business skills in the sector to attract new entrants to a trade where the average age is 60.

Traditional butchery, as well as cutting-edge technologies, will be showcased during the careers awareness programme, and the programme will outline the government funding available to support businesses in employing young people.

It is a joint initiative between Skills Development Scotland (SDS)  and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and is being supported by a new website,, where potential candidates can learn about training opportunities and explore job postings.

Cameron Chisholm started working in a butcher’s shop as a Saturday boy and has become an apprentice.

The programme will underline the business skills the career provides. They range from selection of products and development to learning about the supply chain, recipe development, pricing, profitability and customer service.

Case studies of two young apprentices highlight the opportunities and their ambitions. Cameron Chisholm, who works at Whitburn butchers, Hugh Black & Sons, said his ultimate goal was to have his own shop and cafe. And Sean Cassidy, who has worked his way through Dunbia’s Butchery Academy, said he had qualifications which would open future opportunities.

SDS strategic relations manager, Gerry McBride said butchery was an evolving craft that could unlock a range of careers.

Sean Cassidy, an employee at Dunbia, says he has found a life-long career.

“A modern apprenticeship in this field is a chance for young people to be trained by industry experts, gain a nationally-recognised qualification and earn a real wage while they learn,” he said.

“Apprenticeships also offer a unique opportunity for employers, enabling them to recruit from a fresh pipeline of young talent.

“There are dozens of roles to suit everyone — from processing and catering butchery to the retail butchers we see on high streets across the country — all of which provide opportunities for stimulating successful and long-term careers.”

Gordon Newlands wants to promote butchery as a skilled career for young people.

QMS brand development manager, Gordon Newlands said that while butchery was one of the oldest skills in the world, the aim was to show it could be a  highly skilled career for young people in 2021.

“At a time when we are all conscious of skilled labour shortages, butchery presents a huge array of excellent career opportunities.

“During the various lockdowns over the last 18 months, many of us have rediscovered the joys of visiting our local butcher to get high-quality meats. This project builds on this renewed interest to showcase the range of skills, knowledge and behaviours that can lead to rewarding careers in the butchery industry, not only in the UK but across the world.”

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