Upskilling benefits staff and bosses

IT'S a move destined to alter perspectives about the meat processing industries' skill level but for Killarney Abattoir it's simply a win-win situation.

In the past year more than 70 per cent - or 140 employees - at the abattoir have undertaken some form of on-the-job training.

The initiative has reached across a spectrum of meatworks employees, involving everyone from managers with a working lifetime's experience in the industry to newly-recruited school leavers.

Killarney Abattoir human resources and training manager Tim Doyle said the concept was about improving training opportunities as well as offering employees an opportunity to have skills formally recognised.

“So it has very genuine benefits for both parties,” Mr Doyle said.

A joint initiative of Killarney Abattoirs' Paul Morrish and Busy At Work training co-ordinator Donna Howard, the project kicked off as the meatworks changed ownership last April.

The Leitch Pastoral Group-owned meatworks employs about 190 locals, including about 50 casual staff.

“We have around 20 people who have worked at the abattoir for more than 20 years,” Mr Doyle said.

“Traditionally the meat processing industry offered on-the-job training and asked for little in the way of formal qualifications, but the sector is changing.

“Technology advances and other issues put increased pressure on people to have specific skills.”

Mr Doyle said his organisation had played a supportive role encouraging and facilitating formal on-the-job training as well as classroom time.

“We make training available to everyone who is interested,” he said.

“We don't discriminate on people because of age, we don't insist people retire at a specific age. If they are still making a worthwhile contribution, they are welcome to stay on the payroll.”

Busy at Work co-ordinator Donna Howard said the Killarney Abattoir's attitude to upskilling its workforce was refreshing and provided incentives for both staff and bosses.

“It is very encouraging to see just how willing the organisation has been to embrace training and work to ensure it happens on the job, as production goes on.”

Mrs Howard said the abattoir was in a sense reflective of the general Killarney business operators' approach to training.

“I have had about 180 trainees and apprentices from business and organisations in Killarney alone during the past year,” she said.

“At one point I don't think there were many businesses in town without someone involved in training, which just shows how proactive the place is.”

Mrs Howard said there was training available for practically every conceivable job from meatworks kill floors to retail businesses, hairdressers and childcare centres.

“There really is something for practically everyone and training does have a positive impact on business,” she said.

“Employees feel valued and most embrace the concept of developing their skills, and if you are in business having more qualified staff must be positive.”

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