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Study to Meat Your Edge

2 February 2023

Skills4Work Butchery Training Course a Cut Above

Marc Zabern is no stranger to the butchery industry – he grew up watching his father hone his craft as a master of meats, playing witness to both the challenges and rewards of working in a process driven sector, before joining the family business, Zaroa Meats. 

Fast forward to present day, Zaroa Meats continues to grow from strength-to-strength, even picking up the Supreme Award at last year’s Great New Zealand Sausage Competition, and Marc and his dad continue to champion butchery innovation. For Marc, upskilling himself and nurturing a well-rounded understanding of butchery, is essential to staying progressive, which is why he enrolled for the Skills4Work Trade Butchery programme in April 2022.

The 16 month long training programme – a mix of both classwork and hands-on, practical work experience – hit all the right notes for Marc, because of the support, material and connections it affords trainees.

“I’d been co-director of Zaroa Meats for four years before seeing the Skills4Work Trade Butchery advert pop up on Facebook – and it came at the right time,” explains Marc. “I was looking to gain a greater understanding – get to know all the butchery ins and outs – and learn everything there is about the meat industry. I had a particular interest in learning more about animals’ body structure, how to debone and take meat off a carcass, and to better understand meat processing.”

Coming up against a few challenges was something Marc expected, but simultaneously relished. The demand on his time was significant but achievable. An average day saw Marc at work and in class between 6am and 3pm, and then studying or completing workbook tasks two-to-three hours a night, three nights a week. 

“The volume of information I was required to learn was more than I expected, plus a log book to fill in and workbooks to complete outside of programme study,” says Marc. “It is challenging working and studying, especially working in a heavily regulated environment, that’s process centric; we’re compelled to deliver the best in health, safety and produce at our workplace. So, I was driven to stay up-to-date right throughout the course because you have that knowledge for the taking right there at your fingertips. Everything’s covered, from prep, equipment, hygiene and safety, to customer service and the financial side of running a business, it’s all active learning.”

Support and guidance were also ever-present in the classroom and behind the chopping block. 

“I have to take my hat off to Neil Jackson, he is an incredible Butchery Trainer, his support is second to none,” Marc enthuses. “Skills4Work looks after you; the trainers and advisors want to get you into employment and support you to find a job. I had one colleague who was accepted into a job but it wasn’t quite her fit, so the tutors supported her to apply somewhere else. You form these close circles for the long run.”

For anyone considering a career in butchery, Skills4Work will sharpen your toolkit, says Marc.

“They want you to step up and deliver what we try to produce and export – product of the highest possible standards – and the skills and challenges passed on to us across the course ensures we uphold those standards.”

Are you looking to break into the butchery scene? Contact our customer service team for more information!

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