Butcher Simon Howie concerns over youth

Young people are hesitant to take jobs in retailing and would rather work with computers, according to a leading Perthshire butcher.

Simon Howie, who owns shops in Perth and Auchterarder, has spoken of his concerns over the difficulty of recruiting youth into the meat industry, as teenagers would rather work in an office where they can use a computer. He added that working in a shop seems to be a last resort for many people, despite the recession. "I recruit through word-of-mouth. I'm not seeing many 17-year-olds coming to us," he said.

The Scottish entrepreneur, who took the title of UK Butcher's Shop of the Year in 2006, and the Scottish title in 2009, has praised chefs for the way they have reinvented themselves, making their profession an attractive career choice to go into and said the same needs to be done in retailing and hospitality.

Simon also believes that the trade should be doing more to recruit youngsters through education. "It's all about vocation. We need to get into the schools and colleges and say, "This is why you should be getting into this industry'.

"We need to be able to tell them how much they are going to earn when they are 25 years old with a wife, a kid and their first mortgage. It needs to be done."

However Douglas Scott, Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association chief executive, said that, in fact, there was a large increase of youngsters taking up food and drink Modern Apprenticeships (MA), with 257 starting in September compared to a figure of 97 last year. "I would accept that is difficult to get trained butchers, but there is a route for this grow your own," he said.

Statistics released in June by the Scottish Government showed that 650 MAs had been supported in the food and drink sector during the past year, described as a record.