AHDB Beef & Lamb's comprehensive new Meat Education Programme has been well received by industry. Here, project leader Dick van Leeuwen explains why the educational resource is an indispensable learning tool.

Having spent seven years training at a world-renowned butchery school in Holland - the same amount of time a pharmacist studies - I gained a great understanding at the start of my career of the meat industry, and the best practices available to create a profitable and sustainable supply chain. In recent years however, an industry-wide knowledge gap has become increasingly apparent as meat educational resources have dwindled, as highlighted in our "Securing the future of our independent butchers' sector" report last year.

AAcknowledging the glaring lack of accessible meat knowledge and butchery training for professionals working in the meat industry was the first step on AHDB Beef & Lamb's journey in finding a solution. The next step was to develop a carefully constructed theory and practical educational programme to enhance industry knowledge and boost the skillset of a generation.

The end product is the Meat Education Programme; an essential resource for the whole of the meat industry. At the heart of the programme is a free-to-use online platform which features dedicated meat training modules for: butchers and processors; chefs, foodservice sales and new product development staff; meat buyers and traders; meat counter staff, and marketing professionals and press. Practical butchery/cutting assessments are also available for butchers and processors.

The Meat Education Programme was launched in January 2016 and the industry has welcomed it with open arms. The online platform has proved to be particularly popular, with more than 2,500 site visits, 250 online exams taken, and more than 100 certificates issued in the first month alone.

It is encouraging to see that the enthusiasm and hunger to learn is typically quite high amongst those who have registered so far, with many taking multiple theory assessments in quick succession. Importantly, achievements are rewarded and demonstrable, with certification and a downloadable progress report.

Our programme also features three practical meat cutting levels for butchers and processors to demonstrate butchery skills. Interested parties simply need to download or order printed copies of the easy-to-follow study materials online. Once the student feels capable of fulfilling the practical meat cutting requirements, they can apply for an assessment. An experienced assessor will then visit the learner's place of work to invigilate the practical assessment*.

An important aim of our Meat Education Programme is to upskill the meat industry and make learning easily accessible to all. Key to this is having support from industry and encouraging experts to get involved and motivate staff to enhance knowledge.

Another aim of the Meat Education Programme is for companies to adopt the resource as part of in-house training plans. It is pleasing to report that this is already happening as we are already in discussions with companies throughout the supply chain. For example, market leading processors plan to incorporate the programme as part of staff training, and a National cash and carry company is adopting some of the theory modules to train 50 new company employees as part of its development plans.

Here at AHDB Beef & Lamb, we welcome the opportunity to discuss how the Meat Education Programme can be incorporated into your business. The trade marketing team's contact details can be found by visiting - so get in touch and we'll go from there.

* Learners/employers are required to provide the meat for the practical assessments (which can be sold at the place of work afterwards) and cover the assessor's time and travel expenses.

We've categorized the modules according to industry sector. Just click on the sector which is most appropriate for you.

The Meat Education Programme has become an extremely useful educational tool to many professionals within the industry. Here, a few members share their positive experience of using the programme.
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