Ailsa Ballantyne By Ailsa Ballantyne
Senior Planner
6th December, 2021

With it being Scottish Careers Week, we’re taking the opportunity to highlight the launch of our new butchery recruitment campaign for Quality Meat Scotland and Skills Development Scotland. We faced an interesting challenge with this brief; despite an increase of young people taking up apprenticeships, and a resurgence in popularity of the high street butcher shop, the number of young people taking up butcher apprenticeships just isn’t high enough to build a new generation of butchers that’ll sustain the industry well into the future.

It’s been a long time since anyone at Guy & Co made the big career decision in their final years of school, so we chatted to some 17-18 year olds about their aspirations and the important aspects of their future occupation, as well as whether they’d ever considered butchery as a career. Some key challenges became apparent; a lack of awareness around entry into and progression within the industry, as well as the general perception of butcher as ‘an old person’s job’. Indeed, after some digging we found that the average age of a butcher in the UK is around 56. Whilst not old per se, it’s old enough to make 17-18 year olds feel that butchery is not a career for them, especially when it’s in competition with other trades like plumbing where the average age is down in the 40s, or barbering which has seen a huge intake over the past ten years due to the trendy, cultural resurgence of men’s grooming and the rise of the hipster beard. Like these trades, we really needed to reposition butchery from a job of the past to a job for the future. 

This change can’t be forced and it isn’t likely to come from the top down; we needed to be relatable, for young people to learn about butchery from their peers, to see it for themselves and feel that maybe butchery could in fact be a career for them. The young butchers we talked to oozed passion for the job and lifestyle, were having the time of their lives and were hugely successful with some moving swiftly from apprentice to business owner. They emphasised the unique set of skills butchery gives you, the joy of learning on the job, the creativity it allows and the sociable nature of the work amongst other things. Our new campaign – ‘take a real look at butchery’ – heroes these young butchers and lets their infectious energy and passion shine through in a series of social films that presents butchery as a diverse and dynamic job that offers huge future potential, whilst also being a whole lot of fun. It’s unlikely that butchery has ever been seen as fun, but in a changing job market an interesting and fun job is now more of a draw to a young person than money. We needed butchery to feel fun.  

It’s been one of our most interesting challenges yet, and one that to be brave hasn’t meant lavish marketing ideas or defaulting to puns – it’s just meant being real. We can’t wait to see this out in the world, and really hope it can help shift the dial for the butchery industry.