28 Nov 2021

County Derry butchers to pass on skills to the next generation

A new course has been launched to plug a skills gap in the butchering industry.

County Derry butchers to pass on skills to the next generation

Oran McAtamney is looking forward to passing on his butchery skills.

Three County Derry butchers are set to pass on their skills as a local college prepares to launch a professional butchery course this autumn.

The North West Regional College (NWRC) are launching the course in September 2021, with Kilrea father and sons team Oran, Declan and Mark McAtamney coming on board as lecturers.

Oran says the line-up will give the course a healthy mix of both traditional and new methods of butchery.

“I'm excited to get going,” he told the County Derry Post.

“My two young boys are going to be doing it. I have the skills there for the older style of butchering, whereas they know the modern stuff. There is a good mix of different styles.

“This is a professional butchery course, where they will bring in the carcasses and teach all the different cuts, taking it the whole way from the abbatoir to the shelves.

“There are many skills that make a successful butcher including critical knife skills, an understanding about a range of meat species.

“In addition, butchers will be able to cut, prepare, package and present meat products to the standards required of the business and specialist needs of commercial and consumers.

“We look forward to sharing these skills will our students in September.”

The experienced butcher says the industry is in need of a kick-start, and is hoping the new course will help fill a skills gap.

“People say there is no work, well the butchers need the staff, they are crying out for it,” he said.

“Butchery is dying and it's the same problem; the skills are not there. The course is there to fill that gap and get a lot of younger ones interested in butchery.

“People see it as the lower end of the market, but places are starting to offer higher hourly rates. It's all changing now; if you want that skill you're going to have to pay for it.”

NWRC Curriculum Manager Leyonia Davey said the course would give students a chance to carve out a career in the food sector.

“Our students will be learning from the best, these men who have been working in this industry all their lives,” she said.

“Now they will be passing on the skills of providing the highest quality produce to customers and suppliers.

“This a highly skilled course, but one that will highly beneficial to anyone currently working in, or considering a career in the food sector.”

For more information on the course, visit the NWRC website here.

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