The Level 2 Abattoir Worker Standard has been 18 months in development, with 13 employers, including ABP, Dunbia and Tulip, collaborating with the Food and Drink Training and Education Council (FTC) on its content. Small to medium-sized enterprises in the meat industry were also represented in the steering group.
Described by the group as a “welcome development in what is a highly regulated but also high-risk industry”, it is hoped the new apprenticeship will drive high standards right across the abattoir and red meat processing sector.
The new standard outlines the key knowledge, skills and behaviours an abattoir worker needs, from receiving animals in lairage, to their humane slaughter and hygienic evisceration. It is expected to take between 16–22 months from registration to end-point assessment, to complete the apprenticeship.
Key points addressed in the standard include the need for abattoir workers to be skilled and respectful to team members and to be able to work safely, diligently and with a high regard for animal welfare and food hygiene.
The standard will also cover the need for abattoir workers to hold a valid licence to operate, known as a certificate of competence, to comply with Welfare of Animals at Time of Killing (WATOK) legislation. To obtain this licence, apprentices must achieve the Level 2 WATOK award, which is a mandatory accredited qualification within this new apprenticeship.
The group was chaired by former group safety and training manager of ABP Richard Dilworth, with Terry Fennell, chief executive of food awarding body and assessment organisation FDQ, providing technical guidance on the design of the apprenticeship.
Dilworth said: “At last we have an apprenticeship which recognises the skills in this sector. The trailblazer development was supported enthusiastically by a wide range of employers and industry bodies. We were also supported throughout by FDQ, who did an excellent job in shaping our ideas into a first-class submission.”
FTC chief executive Bill Jermey added that the new standard would help the meat industry contribute to the government’s goal of three million apprenticeships by 2020. “With no less than three new apprenticeship standards now approved, the meat industry is truly pulling its weight towards helping the government achieve this target and, importantly, getting workers back into skilled occupations. I’m delighted that we can now add Abattoir Worker to the list.”