World Skills 2021 Competitor Blog – Ben Roberts

Name : Ben Roberts
Age : 29
Work place: M. E. Evans Ltd

Scarily, I have worked in and around the butchery industry nearly all my life without coming from a butchering family. When growing up, my best friend’s dad ran a very successful Q guild butchers shop and we were always knocking around the back of shop area. As we grew older we got roped into doing jobs such as turkey running at Christmas and kebab making in the summer.

It wasn’t my intention to become a butcher and upon completing my GCSE’s I went to college to study graphic design and photography, whilst working part time at a butchers shop. However, this course just didn’t suit me and I approached my boss to enquire about a full time position while I considered what to do with myself.

Fortunately for me, he had availability, and now rapidly heading towards 12 years full time in the industry and successfully managing and growing a second shop, I can safely say it was the best decision.

Whilst working as a butcher over the years I have been able to continue to learn with the support of a work placed apprenticeship. As my butchery career has progressed I have been able to achieve higher qualifications which both build my knowledge and confidence within my work.I have wanted to compete at World Skills for several years now, but have always struggled to dedicate the time needed to the competition to make it possible. This year, after the last 12 months of hardship and monumental effort from everyone involved in our business, Mike, my boss, has allowed me to dedicate more time to focus on competition butchery. I have been extremely lucky in being selected to represent Craft Butchery Team Wales at the World Butchers Challenge next September 2022 and the World Skills will allow me to develop key skills and experience to take forward to this global stage. I feel that my apprenticeship has allowed me to feel prepared and ready to enter this years World Skills UK Competition.

Upon receiving the brief for the competition, I began researching into the correct butchery techniques to complete the initial seam butchery task and drew on my apprenticeship training provided by Cambrian Training to apply my knowledge and work place experience to fully understand what was being asked of me. I then began putting this into practice and put knife to meat, and over several weeks further honed my skills to hopefully the exacting standards required.

While doing this I was also beginning to look at, and understand the different cuts I was producing, with the second innovative display task forefront of my mind. From these practice sessions I was able to finalise the products I wanted to show to the judges and gauge how best to work to meet all the demands required in the time frame set.

I have only done one butchery competition previously and that was many years ago. So I undertook the competition with a very open mind. The virtual heat was an unusual experience but certainly not unpleasant! For me, one of the hardest parts was creating the space within our small shop to do the competition without disruption but once I worked this out I could settle and focus well. The familiarity of being in the shop in some ways helped as its my every day working environment so I could use this to help relax into the competition better than I perhaps expected. The set tasks were challenging, allowing us to push our creativity and ourselves, but not so challenging as to be daunting and off putting.

My long-term goals within butchery are to hopefully make it through to the finals of World Skills this year and then take the experience forward to World Butchers Challenge next year. Hopefully the skills and experience I gain can be brought back into the shop and one day allows me to run my own shop.

For anyone wanting to give an apprenticeship and a butchery competition a go, all I can say is go for it. There is a huge network of support available and the skills and experience you can gain will only improve you as a butcher. Never be afraid to have a go because everyone will support and encourage you to do it, at least that is what I have found!

Find out more about the competitions we run HERE

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