The Employees Retraining Board (ERB) has decided to suspend its butcher training program after it proved not helpful to the pork industry, Apple Daily reports.
Amid the dwindling number of professional butchers in the city’s wet markets, the board, together with the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU), rolled out two programs, the meat-cutting and slaughterhouse foundation certificate courses, last year.
The meat-cutting program, which lasted between May 31 and June 22 last year, admitted 18 people who were promised to receive a monthly pay of HK$13,000 after graduation.
But although 16 students were able to finish the program, only nine of them went on to become butchers, and they all quit their jobs by March this year.
The ERB admitted that the outcome of the program was far from satisfactory. It could be because the work locations were inconvenient for the new butchers, it said.
The board decided not to launch similar programs that offer customized courses in the future, although it welcomes training institutions to submit their curriculum proposals for opening placement-tied courses. It said it will consider market demand for graduates of such programs.
Some insiders in the pork industry said the graduates quit their jobs because being a butcher requires intensive manual labor which they probably do not like.
Calling butchers meat-cutting technicians will not help in attracting people who do not like the job in the first place, said Hui Wai-Kin, who represents the Pork Traders General Association of Hong Kong.
Hui said the job requires a strong body and tenacity because a butcher needs to hold a knife for more than 10 hours a day, something that a newcomer may find very difficult to cope with.
Former HKFTU lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing, who had pushed for the training program, suggested the pork industry study the feasibility of increasing wages and cutting work hours for butchers.
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