Netherby Meats shop assistant Sharleen Rielly and owner Mike Hanson.

Netherby Meats owner Mike Hanson is keen to take on a couple of young apprentices and reckons butchery is a career worth pursuing.

Finding apprentices has been a problem for Mike and other butchery owners for a numbers of years, but with the current fees-free support for industry training, he’s keener than ever to employ new blood and to teach people the business from the ground up.

Fees-free applies for the first two years of an apprenticeship and means a decent saving for employers.

Competenz training adviser Rob Prins, who manages butchery apprentices around the South Island, said a dozen new apprentices had come on to his books in the past few weeks.

They didn’t necessarily sign on because of zero fees, but no fees meant employers were currently more willing to take on apprentices.

Supermarkets and home kill were considered essential services during lockdown, and some butchers had been flat out and worked all the way through, Mr Prins said.

Butchery was an “outstanding” industry to work in, he said.

Mr Hanson offered online shopping and delivery through his business during lockdown and continues to be very busy with online, and in-shop sales, and also with farm kill.

“I know all butchers are in the same boat and trying to attract apprentices, but I’m hopeful a wave of new blood is coming into the profession. It’s a good industry and offers variety.”

A three to four year apprenticeship taught all the skills needed to work in a butcher’s shop. As well as breaking down big beasts, there was small goods preparation, retail work, sausage making and pork and lamb butchering.

“Just this week we’ve sent meat raffle packs valued at $1000 to Twizel and that side of things is building again, so there’s another facet of what we do.”

To become a butcher you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Certificate in Trade Butchery (Level 4).

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