The abattoir apprenticeship is the first of its kind in the red meat slaughter industry. It aims to raise the bar of training for abattoir workers, enabling them to work safely and with a high regard for animal welfare. Working in an abattoir comes with responsibility – for the animals within your care, for health and hygiene and for food safety. All are taken extremely seriously in the abattoir industry and form an important part of the abattoir apprenticeship standard.
Todays slaughter industry is highly mechanised and the abattoir apprentice will learn how to use a range of machinery in the course of their training. Whilst the majority of the abattoir apprenticeship will consist of ‘on the job’ training, a requirement of the abattoir apprenticeship standard is that 20% of the apprentices time must be spent in ‘off the job’ training
Abattoir workers must hold a valid licence to operate to comply with the WATOK (Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing) legislation. This licence is known as the ‘certificate of competence’ and can be gained through achievement of a regulated qualification, the Level 2 Award for Proficiency in Protecting the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing. All abattoir apprentices must undertake training and achieve this WATOK qualification within 13 weeks of supervised employment. Apprentices must be at least 18 years old before taking this qualification.
For the abattoir industry this apprenticeship is its first dedicated apprenticeship, but other industries previously had a range of apprenticeships to choose from. What’s different about all the new apprenticeship standards, including the Abattoir Worker (Red Meat), is that they are developed ‘by employers for employers.’ Nobody knows better what is needed in a job role than the employers themselves. Secondly, one of the biggest changes is that apprentices now don’t automatically qualify after ‘serving their time’. They need to prove their new skills at something called ‘end-point assessment’ or EPA. EPA is the name given to a series of tests that happen towards the end of an apprenticeship. Apprentices must succeed at end-point assessment to achieve their apprenticeship. Find out more about end-point assessment (EPA)
Funding for the abattoir apprenticeship is either via co-investment with government or the Apprentice Levy. The Level 2 Abattoir Worker Standard is a Band 9 apprenticeship, which attracts a maximum funding rate of £6,000.
Large abattoirs (with a wage bill over £3 million pa) now fund their apprenticeships through the Apprentice Levy. The levy is collected by HMRC at a rate of 0.5% of a business’s monthly wage bill. Smaller abattoirs (with an annual wage bill below £3m) fund their apprenticeships through co-investment with government, though now they need only contribute 5% of their apprentices training costs. For employers with less than 50 employees that 5% is waived if their apprentice is between 16-18 years or between 19-24 and has a local authority education, health and care plan or has been in the care of a local authority.
Employers are now free to negotiate with their approved training provider, to ensure that they get good value training that suits their business. They are also free to choose their own end-point assessment organisation.