The company is investing in the programme to support skills development in UK-based workers and open up new opportunities for people to develop a career in the sector

Pork giant Pilgrim’s UK has launched a Butchery & Abattoir Academy in a bid to attract new talent into the industry.

The supplier said it was creating dedicated training facilities at its sites as part of the move, with the company investing in the programme to “support skills development in UK-based workers and open up new opportunities for people to develop a career in the sector”.

It comes in response to significant labour challenges within the sector in recent years, with the pig sector facing a damaging backlog of as much as 200,000 animals for much of 2021 and 2022, leading to the culling of more than 35,000 healthy pigs on farms due to staff shortages at processing plants.

“We’re committed to providing training and employment opportunities as a business, which is why we’re being proactive in putting programmes like this in place,” said Rachel Baldwin, vice president, human resources at Pilgrim’s UK.

Labour shortages continue to put a strain on the sector, so we hope that this initiative will go some way in helping to attract recruits into our industry and promote the opportunities available,” Baldwin added.

The Level 2 Butchery and Abattoir apprenticeship will be available to any UK-based applicants and will be offered in partnership with the business’s training provider, Bishop Burton College.

Successful applicants will receive training involving a mixture of classroom learning and working with the on-site team enabling them to become a Level 2 apprentice within 18 months at a competitive rate of pay whilst training.

The business is also offering ongoing development opportunities for those individuals who are keen to progress into supervisor roles, with Level 3 apprenticeships available upon completion.

“Labour challenges are impacting a number of industries and it’s something we’re working hard to tackle at Pilgrim’s UK as one of the UK’s largest food and farming businesses,” said Konrad Pacholski, head of butchery development at Pilgrim’s UK. 

This apprentice programme will be a trial for the first year with hopes to “expand our offering in the years to come,” Pacholski added.

Pilgrim’s UK is also recruiting overseas labour, predominately from the Philippines, where interest in butchery and manufacturing roles has been particularly high. The business has seen the number of recruits from the Philippines double between April and August.