Friday, April 2, 2010
Asian butchers needed in Australia, Canada and New Zealand
11 February 2009
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About ten thousand Asian butchers are needed for meat processing plants and restaurants says an official of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) of the Davao Region in the Philippines.
Elmer K. Talavera, TESDA regional director, said skilled butchers are in demand for turning cattle and sheep into meat cuts for domestic and export markets.
"That's why the meat industries in these countries are sending out feelers to neighboring countries in Asia to fill up the thousands of job openings for butchers there," he said.
TESDA is offering butcher course wherein applicants will undergo six weeks of training.
After six weeks of training, the agency will test the applicant on the knowledge and skills he acquired during the 160 training hours.
"This is part of the government's stimulus package to help the country survive the global economic crisis," Mr. Talavera said.
The Commonwealth Services Group a New Zealand recruiter has confirmed that there is heavy demand for workers in butcher shops, food retailing, the butchery department of supermarkets and grocery. This is due to a decline in the number of apprentices going into these trades between 2001 and 2006.
Butchers with more than four years of experience can apply and are paid between $15-$22 per hour with an average of 40-45 work hours per week.
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- Practice occupational health and safety procedures
- Apply food safety and sanitation
- Use standard measuring devices / instruments
- Perform mathematical computation
- Implement environmental policies and procedures
- Stun animal
- Stick and bleed animal
- Scalding, dehair, gambrel and singe pig and cut chest bone of pig
- Eviscerate animal
- Perform cradle processes
- Flay cattle completely
- Split and quarter carcass
- Wash, trim and weigh carcass
- Basic Meat Cutting
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Butcher is a very exiting and multi-faceted profession and not the heartless and gory job that the animal rights and vegetarians try to convey with their politically motivated propaganda against anyone that direct or remotely is involved in a profession pertaining to animals and the meat trade in particular.
The butcher trade has been a time honored profession, supplying the people since almost the dawn of humankind with nutritious food that has been, and still is, vital to our very existence as living beings. By nature humans are omnivores- meaning we actually need meat in our diet. If we were vegetarians (herbivores) we would have the digestive system and teeth structure of a herbivore. As omnivores our digestive system and teeth are made to eat and digest a large variety of foods and especially meat. It is this unique trait which has enabled humans to evolve to the very top of the natural food chain and become the dominant species on this planet.
When I learned the butcher trade in Switzerland the apprenticeship took three years. Following one year of journeyman status I was able to apply to the Swiss-Master-Butcher School. This training period as a Master Butcher took one year. In Switzerland, at that time, any butcher wishing to own his own butcher store or meat processing plant or slaughtering facility had to successfully complete the Master Butcher exams and be in possession of the title "Master Butcher". Only a Master Butcher is entitled to train others to become butcher.
Back then a butcher's apprentice had to learn absolutely everything that remotely had to do with the profession. One day per week was spent in the butcher school where we learned about food regulation, animal anatomy, animal health and welfare and many other things. I had to learn how to assess and trade livestock, how to humanely slaughter animals and how to cut and debone meat. In the second year it was time to learn about all the different spices; how they are mixed to compliment each other and how to make sausages and create new recipes from scratch. I also learned how to cure different meats. In the third year I learned the finer points of presenting meat in a retail setting and how to deal with customers. In order to advise a customer I had to know how to cook, therefore I had to spend one day a week in a hotel kitchen and learn cooking and this was followed by a course or two in a bakery to learn how to bake. Why would a butcher need to know how to bake? In Europe we have many meat specialties that are baked in different bread doughs.
After three years of training I completed the exams to become a certified butcher. The exams took a full two days during which I had to slaughter and completely process a steer, a pig and a calf. Mind you, no machines were permitted- it had all to be done with hand tools the traditional way. The carcass had to be de-boned in such a fashion that there was no meat left on the bone and each muscle had to be separated without cutting into the meat. Each incorrect cut or flaw- yes, even holding the knife in the wrong position- would constitute a minus point. And just to make it more exiting it was all timed and you had to stay within the time limit permitted to do a particular job, otherwise you garnered another minus point. The second day was spent making 15 types of different sausages, selling meat in the store, and then a two hour explanation about technical questions; hygiene, work safety and so on but also how machines work and the technical data of the machines. Here too every mistake gave minus points, i.e. a sausage didn't taste or look right meant 10 minus points. The bad news was that if you had 100 minus points you failed the exams and had to take one more year of schooling and training. However, I sailed through the exams with flying colors and one week later was proudly holding the "Gesellenbrief" (Trade mans Certificate) in my hand. Back then it was the tradition that the master butcher would make the apprentice a gift of a silver knife with the apprentice's name and the date of his exams engraved on it. As well, the stuffed head of the steer you slaughtered in the exams was mounted on a plaque of oak and it too had your name and the title "Butcher" plus the date of exams on it. Back then such things were an honor and many brave and strong a man wiped a tear of pride from his eyes on such occasions. He (there were virtually no women entering this profession in my day) was "somebody" now, an adult that had learned a good and respectable trade, one that the family could be proud of. There where handshakes all around from my family and friends. For me it was an achievement and I was as proud of it then as I am now. I could wear the Guilds Wardrobe where ever I went and all could see that I had learned a trade. Sometimes I think a little of such traditions and values would still go a long way today.
Times have changed since then. Today butchers do not have this comprehensive training but rather become "specialists" within the butchers trade. The term "butcher" has become loosely applied to the trade. In fact, there are several trade names for butcher, and not all imply that the person has been truly trained as such. Today a "meat cutter", a "slaughterer", a "meat packer" or a "sausage maker" could be a person who either is a labourer that has been trained to do one part of a job- such as the "stunner" in a slaughterhouse who has no idea how to process cattle but is an expert on "stunning" livestock.
The work environment is not for the faint of heart. If you do not like the sight of blood then this is not a work environment for you. The slaughterhouse is a noisy place, wet and smelly. The noise comes from the large variety of potentially dangerous machines that need special training to be operated. There are machines to stun the animals, cut and saw bones and extremities, etc. These machines are powerful air operated tools. On some working stations slaughterer's are required to wear protective clothing, which can be heavy or awkward.
The first time I entered a slaughterhouse I was somewhat shocked from the sight and smell. However, I got quickly used to it and even began to like the job. But then again that was in the time when everything was done by hand and two butchers would work together as a team. We even processed the by-products; this added variety to the work in the slaughterhouse.
In a slaughterhouse today a trained butcher usually works as foreman overseeing the work process or has managerial duties.
The Meat Cutter/ Meat Packer/Processor:
As a meat cutter you will work either in a meat packing plant or in a superstore type of environment.
Note: The terms "meat packer", "meat processor" and "meat cutter" are often used interchangeably within the profession and I will try to make distinctions where they may apply.
Meat Packing/Processing Plant:
Machines such as saws, choppers and bone pullers do most of the work. However, there is still a considerable amount of manual labour to be done. This includes heavy lifting of quartered animal carcasses and meat cuts.
The working environment is cool to chilly. To help to prevent accidents by cutting oneself with the knives, “meat cutters” are required to wear protective aprons, arm guards and gloves. These are made of Kevlar or metal netting and can be heavy and cumbersome to work with.
Many smaller meat processing plants are a combination of slaughterhouse and meat processing plant. In such a company the work environment and the work give more variety. Typically such places slaughter animals in the morning and process meat in the afternoon.
Untrained/unskilled workers can perform much of the work in meat packing plants, however trained butchers are preferred. In smaller plants which slaughter animals and process the meat skilled butchers are preferred too.
Here a butcher works in a store-like atmosphere cutting pre-trimmed, pre-cut meat to retail portions and packaging them for retail sale in the store.
The work environment is cool to chilly and involves some heavy lifting. Personal appearance is very important as most meat cutting rooms are separated from the store by a big viewing window. Unskilled workers perform some of the meat cutting, however butchers are preferred and can become meat department managers. Tools include knives, bone saws and cutting machines. In a local butcher store the meat cutter very often helps out in the store serving the customers too (See Butcher Shop Meat Sales Person).
Sausage making has been much mechanized over the past 10 to 15 years. Computerized machines do most of the work such as mixing, detailing, binding, transporting, cooking and smoking. However, there is still some considerable manual labour which involves heavy lifting and meat cutting. The work environment can change from cool to chilly to hot and humid depending at what station you work. The accident hazards come in the form of slippery floors, meat grinders, high-speed meat cutters and mixers but also from hot steam and smoke. A sausage plant can be a very noisy place to work and some machines require the use of hearing protection.
(All of the above working environments require, depending on provincial and state laws, some sort of protective clothing, goggles and hard hats to be worn. It is also required that workers of such facilities undergo regular heath and disease check ups, no because they could be contaminated by meat but because the workers could have a health condition and contaminate the meat with it.)
Butcher Shop Meat Sales Person:
Women traditionally do this type of work in a meat store or butcher shop, since it is work that requires the least heavy lifting. However, in recent years more men have joined the ranks of Sales Assistant in the butcher shops.
This work requires skill in dealing with customers and personal appearance is very important. It is also expected to have a good knowledge of meat preparation and cooking to advise customers and answer their questions knowledgeably. There is nothing more annoying for a customer than having to be referred to another (more knowledgeable) person and then waiting until that person is available. The work environment entails working with cutting machines and knives which can be dangerous if not handled according to the instructions.
Meat Sales Person:
A Meat dealer works mostly from an office or in the field. Butchers are preferred for this type of work because they have a good knowledge of different meat cuts and meat products. As a meat dealer it is your job to sell the meat and meat products to large quantity customers such as superstores, restaurants, hotels and such.
Personal appearance and salesmanship skills are very important for this type of work. Meat dealers often work on a commission basis rather than on a fixed salary.
Alternative butcher training:
There are rare opportunities for butcher apprentices to work in a private countryside butcher store. In such a company the butcher does everything from slaughtering the animals to meat cutting and sausage making and even helps out in the store on busy weekends. In Europe, namely in Switzerland and Germany, there are many butchers such as those described above who do everything themselves. These countries are the best places to learn how to become a good all-round butchers with a solid training in all aspects of the trade. In fact, many smaller Canadian firms that specialize in European meat products will send their staff to these countries for more comprehensive training than is available in the overly-specialized field at home.
Tools of the Trade:
As a butcher you work with potentially highly dangerous tools some of which require protective clothing such as goggles, hard hats, Kevlar aprons, arm guards and gloves. All tools need handling and operation training. You work daily with razor sharp knives of various sizes and lengths. There are knives to de-bone meat, cut meat, skin animals and so on. Other so-called hand tools are the bone ax, meat and bone cleavers, and hand bone saw. All the machines you work with are there to cut, saw, crush and grind. Most of these machines work with enormous power and at high speeds and they all have razor sharp built- in knives or cutting discs. Other tools are carts and different sized hooks, conveyor belts and chains.
A butcher should always concentrate on the task at hand and use extreme caution. The lack of this could cause severe injury and even death. The most common accident are cuts, stab wounds and amputations of fingers, hands and even arms.
Despite all these potentionally dangerous tools I do not see my profession as a particularly "dangerous job", all trades have their inherent dangers.
To be trained as a butcher a high school graduation is necessary.
Hygiene is an absolut must in the butcher trade therefor a person wanting to go in this prefession should have a high standard of personal hygine.
Most of the work is done in medium to lage team setting, being able to work togehter with a team is allways a good bonus.
Butchers not only have to work fast, specially on conveyorbelt systems but safe and exacting. It goes a long way if a person is used to exact work and being able to concentrate for a long time on a task.
Dealing with customers can sometimes be very trying, even downright difficoult at times. Having good communication skills and being polite, plus being able to swallow sometimes once pried, will ensure that a happy customer leaves the store and the boss has confidence that you are the right person to sell his products. Last but not least a butcher should be a responsible and acountable person with dedication to the work.
Be your own Boss:
Once you have trained for butcher and worked a few years to gather experience and hopefully saved up some money you can have you own butcher shop. If that is the route you want to go then it is advisable to take a course or two in business management. Having once business is very hard work, in fact you will become your own slave. People that go in to the business because they think that they can work when they like or that they can do as they please or see it as a get rich quick solution soon will be bankrupt and/or disillusioned.
There are different ways to own your own butcher shop. You either saved up a lot of money and buy an existing shop or you rent/lease it. You can make a franchise with a big butcher shop chain. Going in to a franchise rids you of many problems and worries that you will have when you go on your own. But it also has its drawbacks, you are not really your own boss and the franchise company expects results which can put a lot of stress on you. Also you are very limited in the say what line of products you want to sell. Yet you still have all the responsibilities.
If you buy, rent or lease an existing butcher shop then you already have a customer base from the previous owner. But as I said before, you will work very hard, mostly seven days per week and long hours. In the morning you will be the first to arrive and in the evening the last one to leave. But it has its rewards too, for example you can create your own meat product speciallities and when the customers are happy with your product and service quality then that is a very good feehling.
When I still was working in Switzerland, my father, my brother and I would sit for many hours in the kitchen and refine or create new sausage recipes or find a different way of curing meats. My father was well known all around for his special cured meats and my brother has become one of the best sausage makers. Some of the recipes they came up with are so good and unique that they never where written down for fear the competition would get hold of them, instead they are memorized. Personally I am quite a good cook with meat dishes but I never fancied much making sausages and cured meats. My forte and talents laid more in the direction of meat quality improvement trough raising of slaughter livestock and handling during the slaughtering and processing process. With that knowledge I improved greatly the process of slaughtering animals at our facilety with less stress to the animals. I sat together with farmers and looked into better ways to raise animals. What I want to say with that is that you in your profession can make a special talent into a trade mark. By us it was the cured meats and the outstanding meat quality that set us way apart from the others.
The beauty of my profession is basically the fact that it gives you so many different ways to produce something very good. Meat is one of the most diverse products. Just look around you next time when you go to a butcher store and try to count all the different sausages and meat products, it will impress you of that I am convinced. But then think of the fact that what you see in that butcher shop is not even 10% of all the possible products and specialties that can be created. To give you some idea, there are over 5000 sausage recipes in the world and many thousands of meat delicatessen. Indeed, meat is one of the most diverse foods available to us the possibilities are sheer endless.
For the creative mind and the gourmet amongst the butchers there is no limit in what he or she can do or achieve in this profession. I feel great satisfaction to provide the people with good and healthy food, but also in the fact that butcher is a profession which is so varied and faceted that it really never gets boring. And finally being a butcher can lead to many other food related professions, some of the biggest chefs in the world where first butcher or came from a butchers family and so are the owners of some of the best steak houses around. In this regard butcher is a profession with great prospects. As my dear dad said to me when we graduated from high school. "If you learn butcher you always will have work because people always need to eat no matter what."
WHAT DO BUTCHERS AND MEAT CUTTERS DO?
Skilled preparation of meat for wholesale or retail trade is the principal function of BUTCHERS AND MEAT CUTTERS. Over three hundred cuts of meat can be made from animal carcasses from slaughterhouses.
Butchers and Meat Cutters work in wholesale or retail meat firms where they perform the following tasks:
- Cut larger pieces of meat from the slaughterhouse into smaller cuts.
- Cut, trim, bone, tie, and grind meats, such as beef, pork, poultry, and fish into cooking-size pieces.
- Shape, lace, and tie roasts, using boning knife, skewer, and twine.
- Wrap and weigh meat for customers and may collect money for sales.
- Place meat on trays in display counter.
- Estimate amount and type of meat needed and order meat supply.
- Receive, inspect, and store meat upon delivery.
In wholesale meat firms, Butcher apprentices begin their training by doing odd jobs in the plant such as clean-up. Training includes learning to operate equipment such as forklifts or power-driven saws and grinders. In time, apprentices gradually learn to divide whole carcasses, halves, and quarters into cuts shipped to retail firms.
In retail establishments, Meat Cutter apprentices begin by preparing some of the cheaper cuts. They learn to bone meat and roll and tie roasts. They also learn merchandising, salesmanship, how to set up a counter display, and advise customers about meat preparation and cooking.
WHAT SKILLS ARE IMPORTANT?
Some of the important skills, knowledge, and abilities for Butchers and Meat Cutters include:
- Product Inspection - Inspecting and evaluating the quality of products.
- Mathematics - Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Problem Identification - Identifying the nature of problems.
- Active Listening - Listening to what other people are saying and asking questions as appropriate.
- Equipment Selection - Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
- Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
- Manual Dexterity - The ability to quickly make coordinated movements of one hand, a hand together with its arm, or two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
- Wrist-Finger Speed - The ability to make fast, simple, repeated movements of the fingers, hands, and wrists.
- Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services.
WHAT’S THE WORK ENVIRONMENT?
Meat Cutters working in retail meat markets move back and forth from counter to cooler. Butchers usually work in lower temperatures more often than Cutters. The occupation requires physical strength to lift and carry large cuts of meat and the ability to work with the hands and to stand for long periods. These workers need good eyesight and ability to move about with ease and speed. The work requires healthy workers who will not spread contagious diseases.
Workers should not mind working around animal carcasses. Although they work in clean and sanitary conditions, their clothing is often soiled with animal blood and the air may smell unpleasant.
Injuries to fingers and hands sometimes result from careless use of tools and equipment. The repetitive nature of the work may cause damage to the wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome). Occasionally, a worker may suffer a hernia or a back injury. Equipment guards, hand and stomach guards, and safety instruction during apprenticeship all help to prevent accidents.
Employers must enforce safety requirements of the State Division of Industrial Safety and provide first aid equipment and floor covering suitable for liquid drainage and long-term standing.
Butchers and Meat Cutters may belong to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
WHAT’S THE CALIFORNIA JOB OUTLOOK?
The following information is from the occupational projections produced by the Employment Development Department's Labor Market Information Division:
Estimated number of workers in 1998:
The number of jobs for highly skilled Butchers and Meat Cutters, who work mostly in retail outlets, is expected to decline. New automation and the consolidation of the meatpacking and poultry processing industries are enabling employers to hire lower wage slaughterers and meatpackers instead of higher paid Butchers in meatpacking plants.
Most red meat arrives at grocery stores partially cut up, but a greater percentage of meat is being delivered prepackaged, with additional fat removed, to wholesalers and retailers. This trend is resulting in less work and fewer jobs for retail Butchers.
Most job opportunities will come from replacing workers who retire, die, or leave the occupation for other reasons.
WHAT DOES THE JOB PAY?
Butchers and Meat Cutters 2001 Wages
Hourly wages range from
$8.79 to $19.54
Average hourly wage
Average annual wage
Butchers and Meat Cutters usually work a 40-hour week; those in retail firms may work on weekends.
Almost all employers surveyed pay health benefits; many pay for dental, vision, and life insurance, sick leave, and retirement plans. Most employers also provide uniforms if they are required.
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR THE JOB?
Education and Training
Union-apprentice Butchers or Meat Cutters must first be hired by a company that has signed an agreement with the Joint Apprenticeship Committee. Approximately 4,000 hours of supervised on-the-job training is required during the two-year apprenticeship. Apprentices also take a minimum of 144 hours each year of related classroom training. Journey-level status is granted after the apprentice qualifies in both job performance and classroom work.
Butchers and Meat Cutters provide their own hand tools at the beginning of training. These include various knives, a cleaver, stitching needles, and a sharpening steel, that together can cost $300 or more. Employers provide power equipment, linen, and uniforms if required, as well as protective gear.
Most employers prefer apprentices who have completed high school. Helpful high school courses include mathematics and any shop courses that develop skill in the use of hand and power tools.
Some firms give an arithmetic test to applicants. In general, apprentices must be at least 18 years old.
Butchers and Meat Cutters who begin work as trainees in independent shops can gain needed skills to shorten the apprenticeship period. Ex-military cooks and Butchers may have a shorter apprenticeship period. Employers look for a willingness and ability to learn and take responsibility and to deal with customers in a friendly, efficient way.
Licensing and Certification
Licensing and certification is not required for this occupation.
Classes are not required after workers complete the classroom training program for apprentices.
HOW DO I FIND THE JOB?
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. The most common way to enter this occupation is through the formal apprenticeship program run by employers in cooperation with the local Joint Apprenticeship Committee. Private firms are listed in the yellow pages under Meat-Retail and Meat-Wholesale. California job openings can be found at various online job-listing systems including CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov or at JobCentra National Labor Exchange at www.jobcentral.org.
For other occupational and wage information and a listing of the largest employers in any county, visit the Employment Development Department Labor Market Information Web page at www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov. Find further job search assistance from your nearest Workforce Services Office www.edd.ca.gov/Jobs_and_Training/Workforce_Services_Offices_by_County.htm or the closest One-Stop site, www.servicelocator.org/.
WHERE CAN THIS JOB LEAD?
Journey-level Meat Cutters may promote to head Meat Cutter, assistant manager, or manager of a shop. There are fewer opportunities in wholesale firms, although some journey-level Butchers go on to supervisory jobs or to work as an inspector. Butchers, like Meat Cutters, sometimes become owners of retail shops.