Hunt to find the UK’s most skilful butchers

A nationwide hunt has been launched to find talented butchers who are a cut above the rest to follow in the footsteps of Lincolnshire’s James Taylor.

James, who works for G Simpson Butchers in Heckington, won the prestigious Butchery WorldSkills UK competition last November and his successor is now being sought.

The competition focuses on all the essential skills required for a successful career as a multi-skilled butcher within the food manufacturing industry. Butchers have until April 7 to register online at

Butchers are tested for overall skill, innovation, creativity, presentation, work ethic, method and approach to tasks, carcass and primal utilisation, waste and safe and hygienic working practice.

Regional heats or assessment rounds will take place between April and July and the six top scoring butchers from across the UK will qualify for the final to be held at The Skills Show at the NEC Birmingham from November 15-17.

In the final, butchers will complete five tasks over two days in front of a live audience. The Skills Show is the nation’s largest skills and careers event and helps to shape the future of the next generation.

The butchery competition is organised by award-winning training provider Cambrian Training Company and supported by an Industry Steering Group. Sponsors are the Food and Drink Education Training Council, The Institute of Meat, Hybu Cig Cymru/Meat Promotion Wales and The National Federation of Meet and Food Traders.

To enter, butchers do not need qualifications, but must not have completed a qualification higher than a level 4 in Food Manufacturing Excellence or equivalent.

They must possess good knife and primary and secondary butchery skills, including seam butchery, with a minimum of six months practical experience, good tying and stringing skills, sausage making experience and ability to work under pressure in front of an audience.

Butchery is one of more than 60 skills to feature in this year’s WorldSkills UK Competitions which are proven to help young people go further, faster in their training and careers. The competitions are designed by industry experts and focus on the highest UK and international standards.

They deliver benefits to not only apprentices and students, but also to their employers, training providers and colleges. Taking part in the competitions equips apprentices in industry with the world-class skills needed to help organisations maintain their competitive edge.

More than 95% of past entrants believed that taking part in the competitions, at any level, improved their technical and employability skills.

“It’s important that butchery is represented as a skill at WorldSkills UK because it’s a real craft that needs to be benchmarked and promoted,” said Arwyn Watkins, Cambrian Training Company’s chief executive. “Its inclusion for the fourth time is a great tool to raise the industry’s standards and profile.”