Blazing the trail in butchery
Published:  10 April, 2017

The first intake of Trailblazer apprentices have completed their final assessment.

Taking place at Aubrey Allen’s training facility in Coventry, Curtis Brind (pictured, centre), Reece Nevard (pictured, right) and Stephen Maltby (pictured, left), all from Walter Smith, finished the assessment that saw them complete a multiple choice theory exam, break down a lamb in a limited amount of time, followed by a sit-down discussion with an assessor.

Although the assessment took place on Thursday, 6 April, the young butchers have to wait until they find out their results.

Paul Cadman, chair of the Trailblazer group, said apprenticeship schemes were an important tool for equipping butchers with the skills they needed. “As a director of Walter Smith Fine Foods for 20 years, I know how important it is to have a good apprenticeship programme. All of our butchers and shop managers did an apprenticeship.

“Curtis, Stephen and Reece became the first three Trailblazer apprentices to undertake the new End Point Assessment, but it’s reassuring that the skills, knowledge and behaviours they have had to demonstrate to the independent assessors are similar to those decades ago. Our customers value these traditional craft skills as it shows in the exceptional meat they produce and the service they provide.”

With the End Point Assessment completed, the young butchers have big ambitions for their future careers. “Hopefully I’ll become manager of a shop or have my own store,” explained Brind, who works at Walter Smith’s Coventry store. “That’s what I would like to do when I’m older. This apprenticeship has helped me learn about different parts of the animals, further into the butchery, and different skills.”

Nevard, who works at the Huntingdon store, said the apprenticeship had allowed him to get his foot in the door in the butchery industry. “I took part in this apprenticeship to have a qualification in butchery and set my career in the right direction,” he explained. “It has helped better my knowledge, my practical skills, and helped me improve my customer service skills.”

Maltby, who also works in Walter Rose Huntingdon, commented that the apprenticeship had opened several opportunities for him within the trade. “The Trailblazer apprenticeship has helped me improve my knowledge of butchery and where exactly things in the food chain can take you. It has helped me with my practical skills, and my confidence in general.

“It’s a great opportunity; there are many different paths you can take. Personally, I would like to be an assessor one day. There’s loads of different things you can do.”

The Trailblazer apprenticeship was first launched in March 2016, in what the Institute of Meat described as “a new era” in butchery.

“I am very proud of the apprentices, whom I hope have done enough to pass, I’m grateful to the excellent tutors from Crosby Butchery Training for training and preparing them, to FDQ for providing a professional and rigorous EPA [end programme assessment], and to the Aubrey Academy for the first-class venue and lamb used for the assessment,” concluded Cadman.