Previously launched in May, the training initiative has now been classified as a formal Apprentice Occupational scheme.
Eville & Jones said the move had been made following an "increase in the level of media coverage on the issue of the availability of suitably trained staff to underpin our ability to meet staffing level demands in the provision of meat inspection within the meat industry”.
Plans are to launch the Apprenticeship Occupation for Meat Inspectors in early 2019.
The business said this was an issue that had been on its radar for some time and was as a direct result of Brexit. “The continued uncertainty about our future ability to employ staff from overseas has put significant stress on our ongoing recruitment of veterinarians to work in this sector.”
It advised that an early resolution required a similar arrangement that would allow non-EU vets to be removed from the Tier 2 visa route and all vets to be placed on the Shortage Occupation List – a similar arrangement to the one the Government has introduced to assist the NHS in its staff recruitment programmes. Currently, many vets undergo a training period working as meat hygiene inspectors (MHIs) before they then go on to become fully fledged Official Veterinarians.
“However, as this issue has evolved, we have kept developments under review and have revisited our long-term plans with regard to MHI training. On this basis we decided to move our recently launched training initiative for meat inspectors up a gear to a formal Apprentice Occupational scheme. This is a substantial commitment and reflects our continued commitment to providing the best service using the best people to support our industry.”
Eville & Jones is working closely with the Institute of Apprenticeships in submitting an application to operate a dedicated Apprentice Occupational scheme for meat inspectors.
Eville & Jones managing director Jason Aldiss said: “We have on ongoing planning process within the business that includes our training provision. The option to open an Apprentice Occupational scheme has been under consideration for some time and we have decided to proceed with this initiative, given the long-term reduction in UK-trained MHIs. I believe this will provide a solid foundation in establishing a long-term solution to providing industry with qualified staff able to deliver meat inspection.”
He added that Eville & Jones was in the process of establishing a “trailblazer” group to lead the initiative.
The scheme organisers will work closely with the FDQ team in building the programme. Chief executive Terry Fennell said: “We are delighted that Eville & Jones have decided to proceed with this initiative. It makes good sense to build the meat industry’s skill sets, especially within this specialised area of food safety.”