A YOUNG Borders butcher has fronted a campaign to encourage more young people to consider a career in butchery.

Ryan Briggs, of Briggsy's Butchers in Jedburgh was one of two young butchers at the front of a campaign created by Quality Meat Scotland and Skills Development Scotland as part of their butchery careers programme.

The programme highlights 750 potential vacancies around Scotland for butchery apprentices which would allow participants to develop their skills.

Ryan said: "I always wanted to be a chef when I was in school.

"My grandfather was a butcher, so I started with a Saturday job helping out in the shop during the holidays, which sparked my interest in taking up an apprenticeship opportunity – and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done."

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He added: “My goal was always to have my own shop, and I knew it would take a lot of hard work and training to get there.

"Throughout my apprenticeship I had incredible support from both my employer and mentor, who picked up on my interest in developing the business side of things on top of building my core butchery skills.

"This meant I was able to learn about both butchery’s strong traditions and the exciting business potential as a trade for the future. The opportunities kept on coming, and I kept grabbing them with both hands!

"That’s something every apprentice should consider: knowledge is worth its weight in gold.

"My apprenticeship took me to the all-time highs of representing my country on the British butchery team, winning the Scottish Under 22 Butcher of the Year and Apprentice of the Year.

"I now have my own shop and a team of eight fantastic people working with me.

"We’re going from strength to strength, and since setting up our new website we’ve already been able to double our online sales."

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According to statistics, the average age of Scottish butchers is 60-years-old, and women only make up 14 per cent of apprentices within the sector.

Gerry McBride, Strategic Relations Manager at Skills Development Scotland, said: “A modern apprenticeship in butchery is a chance for young people to be trained by industry experts, gain a nationally-recognised qualification and earn a real wage while they learn.

"Apprenticeships also offer a unique opportunity for employers, enabling them to recruit from a fresh pipeline of young talent.

"There are dozens of roles to suit everyone - from processing and catering butchery to the retail butchers we see on high streets across the country – all of which provide opportunities for stimulating successful and long-term careers.”

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Around 25 per cent of current vacancies are for apprenticeships in retail, processing, and catering.

The butchery careers programme also highlights the funding opportunities available to butchery apprentices.

Ryan said: “It’s been a steep learning curve and you never stop developing, but the whole process really helped me to mature as a person.

"There’s tremendous innovation in the industry, and I love finding and meeting our customers’ demands for new products through our ‘farm to fork’ approach. On my view, butchery at the highest level isn’t just a trade or a job, it’s an art, and something I think will be around forever.”