MATT EDWARDS, a respected name in the Welsh meat industry, is carving a successful career as an assessor and mentor to the next generation of butchers. Edwards, who hails from Wrexham, is currently Coleg Cambria’s top Work-based Learning Practitioner for Butchery, and has already made a significant impact on the sector.
Having started his own career at just 14 years old in a local butcher shop, Edwards has since gone on to become an apprentice at award-winning outlets such as Swans Farm Shop in Treuddyn, Jones’s Butchers in Llangollen, and with Steve Vaughan in Penyffordd. His expertise has not gone unnoticed, as he was awarded a gold medal by WorldSkills UK for his exceptional skills.
Now on the other side of the counter, Edwards is using his knowledge and experience to support the industry’s new blood. Adam Jones, for example, followed in Edwards’ footsteps by becoming Welsh Butcher of the Year while a Cambria apprentice and working at Swans.
As an Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales ambassador, Edwards is keen to promote the trade through competitions and by visiting schools to demonstrate the benefits of joining a profession where there is an increasing demand for skilled candidates.
“I go out to see the learners in the workplace, carry out observations and assessments and guide them towards an eventual career in butchery,” said Edwards. “We have more than 100 food manufacturing learners across North Wales and the numbers are growing but there is room for more, the demand is there in this region and beyond – we are always getting asked for more apprentices and that has been the case for some time now.
“As well as developing the next generation of butchers we also promote and celebrate Welsh produce and the hospitality sector, all working together to meet that dearth in skills, because it really does need addressing.”
The British Meat Processors Association recently reported that the industry is facing a critical labor and skills shortage, which has been exacerbated by Brexit. Edwards’ work is therefore more vital than ever in ensuring that the Welsh meat industry continues to thrive for years to come.