Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2024: trade bodies back butchery programmes

Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2024: trade bodies back butchery programmes

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) is promoting butchery for Scottish Apprenticeship Week, highlighting the success of butchers in its Careers programme.

Ingram serving a customer at Smiddy Butchers.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2024 runs from Monday 4th March to Friday 8th March, celebrating the contributions of apprenticeships to individuals, employers and Scotland’s economy.

QMS said that the annual event “serves as a platform to champion the merits of work-based learning across diverse sectors”, and considered Stirling butcher Marc Ingram as an apprenticeship success story. Ingram started on the QMS and Skill Development Scotland Butchery Careers programme three years ago, and QMS reported that he is currently working towards Scottish Apprentice of the Year.

Sarah Miller, QMS chief executive, said: “Marc exemplifies the potential unleashed through apprenticeships. Currently a Level 2 Apprentice in Meat & Poultry Skills at Smiddy Butchers, Marc has emerged as a beacon of inspiration, exceeding his own expectations.

“His journey is a compelling story of resilience, creativity and personal growth. And while he attributes his success to his apprenticeship in butchery alone, having found his passion, he clearly works hard and puts his all into his career.”

Ingram spoke of how he left school at 15 after struggling with dyslexia, working in a factory before landing his apprenticeship at Smiddy Butchers in Blair Drummond, Stirling. He said: “When I was younger, I thought the only way to be successful was to go to college and get a degree but I knew this wasn’t an option for me. With the help of my Interrupted Learning Services, I discovered the butchery apprenticeship which has been life-changing.

“A lot of folk see butchery as ‘just cutting up meat’ but there are so many ways to do more and different. I love to experiment and explore ideas, finding ways to add value to produce. It’s about taking something simple and developing it into something unique.”

Building skill and confidence through mentorship

QMS said that through “hands-on training and mentorship” under Fraser Sivewright, manager at Smiddy Butchers, Ingram has been “honing his craft, exploring innovative techniques and infusing traditional practices with a modern twist”.

“I couldn’t have done any of this without the team at Smiddy,” said Ingram. “Everyone has been extremely supportive, particularly my manager Fraser who’s been incredibly encouraging and has believed in me since the very beginning.”

“We’re delighted that Marc has got so much from the apprenticeship programme,” said QMS’ Gordon Newlands. “He truly deserves being a finalist in the Scottish Apprentice of the Year Award and we wish him the best of luck for the final stage of the competition.

“Initiatives like the Butchery Careers programme foster a new generation of skilled professionals. By championing apprenticeships, these initiatives bridge skill gaps, empower individuals, and future-proof industries against evolving demands.”

Ingram said: “Butchery has done more for me in the last two years than school ever did. It’s not just about cutting meat; it’s about creativity, innovation, and adding value to produce. Apprenticeships provide another pathway for individuals to thrive and contribute meaningfully to our communities.”

QMS stated that local butchers were supporting around 250 people undertaking Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland, with chief executive Miller saying: “Scotland’s high street independent butchers are often one of the country’s unrecognised success stories – and a real force to be reckoned with. Not only do they showcase and promote Scotch red meat, but their focus on customer service, in-depth product knowledge, innovative ideas and developing the next generation is paying dividends.”

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