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Plumpton College

Plumpton College is a further and higher education college, based in East Sussex. Established in 1926 the college specialises in land based courses. With close connections with agriculture and the food supply chain the offering of Butchery apprenticeships was a natural addition to their portfolio.

Plumpton enrolled their first students on the Level 2 Butchery Trailblazer Apprenticeship in May 2016. They were one of the first apprentice training providers in the UK to deliver the new apprenticeship. Currently they have 15 students studying for their Level 2 and are shortly to add the newly government approved Level 3 Advanced Butchery Apprenticeship to their offering.

Course leader Tony Meredith has worked in the food industry for over 40 years and has delivered food apprenticeships before. A meat industry specialist, Tony is a member of the Institute of Meat. We catch up with him six months on from the first intake, to find out his perspective on the changes to apprenticeships, and Plumpton’s experience in setting up the Level 2 Butchery Standard Apprenticeship.

Having delivered the previous SASE Food and Drink framework as well as the new Trailblazer Butchery Apprenticeship, how do you find they compare?
Without doubt the new Level 2 Butchery Apprenticeship is a more serious qualification. It is as a professional qualification should be; comprehensive, structured and detailed. Employers can be confident that students who successfully complete the course will be able to work safely and efficiently. As an approved apprentice training provider we can’t simply ‘sign off’ the course as completed – students have to prove their skills in independent end point assessments. It may sound daunting to students, but they will only take those assessments once we feel they are ready, so they shouldn’t be put off by them.

How did you find the transition from old to new apprenticeship?
It was a fair amount of work, but worth it in the end to be able to offer a more worthwhile qualification. The transition was made easier by being able to speak directly to the person who developed the apprenticeship. When you’re making a big change you need to know that you’ll be supported. We certainly found that to be the case with ftc and the team at FDQ as well, who advised us on the mandatory qualifications involved in the butchery apprenticeship.

Can you tell us more about the students you have on the apprenticeship?
The apprenticeship has attracted quite a mix of students. We have school-leavers who are keen to achieve a recognised qualification and get into a skilled profession like butchery. We also have people in their 40’s who are looking to change career but need to work whilst doing so.

What has been the response from employers to the Level 2 Butchery Apprenticeship?
When employers actually look at the course specification they are surprised at how thorough it is and that it teaches not just the basic skills, but also the behaviours needed to succeed as a butcher. Butchers are proud of their profession – many feel that the new apprenticeship will restore respect for this centuries old craft.

Would you recommend the apprenticeship to other apprentice training providers?
Yes – it’s a programme we are proud to deliver, knowing we are training the next generation of butchers to a very high standard.

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