Silver Fern Farms Ltd has fully embraced the new meat processing apprenticeship and has signed up a total of 45 employees under the Modern Apprenticeship scheme, accounting for a large portion of the meat industry apprentices currently enrolled.
Included in this group are the first ever women to enrol in the meat processing apprentice programme, Ashlee Anderson from Rotorua and Chrissy Morris from Takapau.
The apprenticeship involves structured learning up to and including the level four advanced boning qualification, which is the pinnacle of achievement for someone working in meat processing prior to taking a route to supervision and/or management.
The qualification is about teaching the value of yield, waste reduction and accuracy to ensure the best return for the company, its farmer shareholders and NZ Inc through the greatest value being derived during the processing operation. NZITO apprenticeship co-ordinator Brian Waltham, a former long-term employee at Silver Fern Farms, is supporting the women through their learning journey with regular quarterly visits. The apprentices are also receiving the full support of SFF who want to diversify their workforce to ensure that opportunities are equally available for all. Waltham notes that when he started in the industry in 1967, “the thought of female workers was out of the question, let alone working in advanced positions, such as the boning departments.”
Waltham adds that “it’s great to see the industry develop into an equal employment opportunity employment option.” The two female apprentices are showing that “given the opportunity to succeed, women can aspire and achieve at any level in a previously male-dominated industry.”
This is indicative of the company’s view on its people, who it considers are the “cornerstone” of the business ensuring that diverse pathways are available for “talented people to reach their full potential.”
NZITO appreciates the ongoing support from SFF for industry training and apprenticeships.
Article abridged from NZITO News with permission from NZITO and Silver Fern Farms. It has appeared in Food NZ magazine (August/September 2013) and is reproduced here with permission.