The local meat industry will be working with the Employees Retraining Board (ERB) to introduce training courses to attract new blood amid a city-wide butcher shortage.
The Employees Retraining Board (ERB) is planning to set up courses for meat stall retailing and slaughterhouses, with a quota of twenty per class. Each class will include 120 hours of basic training, introduction to pig parts, meat-cutting techniques, and food safety, Ming Pao reported.
Students who pass the exam will receive three months of on-the-job training, and their salaries could reach around HK$16,000 to HK$20,000 if they are hired. The ERB said that preparation for the classes have reached the final stage and has been submitted to review. They are expected to commence sometime in the coming two years.
Pork Traders General Association of Hong Kong representative Hui Wai-Kin said that meat stalls in Hong Kong are currently about 500 butchers short. Many butchers are already over 60 years of age and, if there are no newcomers, there will be a temporary shortage in the industry. Hui said he hoped that the name change from butcher to “meat-cutting technician” would improve the industry’s image.
Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing said that the introduction of “meat-cutting technicians” courses is to meet the demand of the industry, RTHK reported. Wong, along with industry professionals, had met with Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung and campaigned for the introduction of these courses.
Wong also said that the current subsidy of HK$150 a day for attending these classes may not be attractive enough. He asked the government to review the subsidy scheme criteria and amount, adding that – even for half-day courses – the students’ transportation costs and financial standing should be taken into account.