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Walter Smith HR Director, Paul Cadman, appointed to the Institute for Apprenticeships board

by Walter Smith 27/01/2017

We are delighted and proud to confirm that our HR Director Paul Cadman has been appointed to the Institute for Apprenticeships board. The newly formed board will be made up of eight members, with the majority being employers, business leaders and their representatives. The core task of the Institute, which becomes ‘fully operational’ in April, will be to support the government’s drive to achieve 3 million apprenticeships by 2020

In 2013 Walter Smith were chosen as winner of Medium Employer of the Year in the National Apprenticeship Awards, in recognition of their commitment to training young people through apprenticeships. Paul also led the government-backed Walter Smith Employer Leadership Project (WS-ELP), a three year training project, established to provide bespoke training support to over 350 SME food businesses. Paul has been one of the Government’s Apprentice Ambassadors since 2012 and is Chair of two Apprentice Trailblazer groups: one has developed two successful Butchery standards and a new one is developing Learning & Development standards.

Paul said “ The Butchery Trailblazers are fine examples of what can be achieved when employers and training specialists unite together, motivated by nothing more than achieving the very best apprenticeship training for their industry. For small businesses especially, apprentices are the life-blood of their future – I look forward to playing my part in ensuring they get the quality apprenticeships that they deserve.”

Please click on the links below to see what the trade press are saying.

Meat Trade Journal

Meat Management

Daz Hale from BBC Radio WM at the Walter Smith Food Academy

by Walter Smith 07/04/2014

Walter Smith received a call from the BBC stating that they’d become aware that a number of butchers were having difficulty recruiting apprentices. They knew about Walter Smith as the best known butcher in the West Midlands and its reputation as the National Apprentice employer so they asked if their adventurous reporter Daz Hale could come along and have a go and hopefully promote the butchery profession among their listeners!

So Daz came along to the Walter Smith Food Academy on 31st March 2015 from where he staged a BBC WM live radio link. Daz firstly spoke to HR Director, Paul Cadman, who explained that the company has always recruited apprentices as that’s how it develops its own experienced butchers. He added that school leavers were often attracted to careers in areas such as IT so weren’t looking at butchery, which is a shame because butchery is such an interesting career. It was decided that Daz would be shown how to cut chicken portions so Retail Director Tony Yorath was on hand to set-up the necessary equipment and supply Daz with suitable personal protective equipment including a chainmail glove and apron, hat and butcher coat.

Intermediate Apprentice Tom Baggott explained live on the radio what was about to happen and then Advanced Apprentice George Scott (aka "gorgeous George") gave Daz careful instruction on what he should do. At the end, Daz asked Tony what he thought and Tony told Daz, "Don’t give your day job just yet, but you showed promise and were willing"!

Albrighton Shop – Smithfield Awards

by Walter Smith 27/11/2014

Butchers Walter Smith won seven Smithfield Awards. Shop Manager, Stephen Hewitt with the gold-medal Merguez sausages.

Walter Smith Fine Foods Butchers and Delicatessen, in Albrighton High Street, came top of the pile at the annual Smithfield Awards. It was praised for its Merguez sausage, chicken liver and brandy pate and oak-smoked dry cured bacon.

Some 479 products from 54 Q Guild butchers nationwide were entered for the eight categories for the product evaluation competition and judged by independent panels of food and meet industry experts.

Stephen Hewitt, shop manager of the Albrighton shop said, "We are delighted with the success of our winning product. We made the Merguez sausage - beef and lamb sausage - for the first time this year, at the request of one of our customers and it has proven to be most popular.

The oak-smoked dry cured bacon has been cold smoked over English Oak and has a superb flavour. Again, this is something we started to produce this year.

The chicken liver and brandy pate is based on an old farmhouse recipe."

The awards were announced and presented at Butchers Hall in Smithfield, London, the ancestral home of Q Guild.

7 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Time

by Walter Smith 08/03/2015

Get ahead with an apprenticeship and benefit from on-the-job training taught by experienced professionals.

After finishing that killer application and having aced the interview, you got the position - congratulations!

Now how do you make the most of this amazing opportunity on a National Apprenticeship programme?

Apprentices have secured positions in some of the biggest companies in the country, like Google, ASOS and IBM and are exceeding in their apprenticeships.

Here are some suggestions on how to make the most of this exciting time in your career.

1. Experience as much as possible - try to experience different parts of the company. Being an apprentice is a great excuse to ask someone if they can talk to you about what they do and how they got there.

2. Word hard - talk to people. Enjoy the experience. Ultimately, work hard. When you work hard, people will recognise it and that could potentially lead to another great opportunity.

3. Network - get to know as many people as possible. You'd be surprised how many people are interested in what apprentices actually do.

4. Embrace the opportunity - there are so many opportunities to learn from industry experts and take the opportunity to benefit from this sort of exposure.

5. Make contact - speak to people and find out their experiences within the company; how they came to work there and what they enjoy. Making contacts can be invaluable when it comes to looking for different opportunities.

6. Be happy! Meet as many people as possible. On the floor in your department. Be known,as yo never know who might be a well needed contact i the future. Also, be happy. You don't want to seem unapproachable in your company.

7. Enjoy it!

Walter Smith Fine Foods wins “Best Training Initiative” FMT Awards 2015

by Walter Smith 06/03/2015

Walter Smith Fine Foods has won the Food Management Award for Best Training Initiative at the prestigious ceremony luncheon held in London at the Plaisterers Hall.

The Best Training Initiative award was in recognition of Walter Smith's commitment to training its people, including apprenticeships but also for taking the lead on a Government backed Employer Leadership Project (ELP). The project will receive investment from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and from employers over a 3 year period. This co-investment training initiative is designed to provide high levels of individualised support for micro, small and medium sized craft food businesses in the UK. The aim is to help over 350 food businesses benefit from personalised training and development support for their staff and apprentices. In addition, the ELP supports the recruitment of unemployed young people into food businesses via Traineeships and offers professional support and recognition to small business owners/managers who develop their staff.

"As Chair of the Project Board with responsibility for overseeing the project, I am absolutely delighted that our employer designed and led initiative has won the FMT award, this recognises the great strides made by the small team setting up and implementing the project last year and gives us tremendous impetus for supporting more small food businesses in 2015" said Janet Hill MD of Hills Bakery an SME and Chair of the ELP Board

The Walter Smith Employer Leadership Project (WS-ELP) commenced last autumn and runs to March 2017 and is supported by the Food and Drink Training and Education Council (ftc); a skills charity to the food industry that is supporting the project with quality assurance, design, commissioning and consultation services. In less than five months the WS-ELP has already benefitted dozens of food businesses with training needs identification and with various training and upskilling interventions to support workforce development and productivity. One key component is a Mentoring course – something topical at present and a favoured management tool of Sir Richard Branson.

Commenting on behalf of Walter Smith, Paul Cadman Project Director said "As an employer with a rich history of apprenticeships and staff development, I am proud that Walter Smith took the initiative to lead the project. Working alongside fellow employers and specialist training partners is very stimulating as we're tapping into some real insight into how best to support the training needs of this hugely important industry within the UK economy. Today's Award will help us reach out to more employers and is a very welcome acknowledgment that we must be getting it right".

Michael Davis, Chief Executive of UKCES commented: "Industry-wide collaboration and employer-led partnerships are critical for the development of a truly skilled workforce. But it's not just about big business working together. The Walter Smith Employer Leadership Project is an excellent example of how employers of all sizes are joining together to develop the current, and future, skills they need for their businesses to thrive."

2014 National Apprentice Awards

by Walter Smith 13/11/2014

Thanks to Paul Thompson from our Knowle shop for delivering the pies for tonight's display seen by 850 guests including the Deputy Prime Minister! (We were mentioned in the programme too).

And thanks to the apprentices whose signatures appeared on our display.

Our HR Apprentice Danielle Forrester - Talks HR Apprenticeships with CIPD

by Walter Smith 22/10/2014
Our very own Danielle, HR Apprentice based at Walter Smith's central admin office in Garrett's Green, talks on CIPD TV about what it's like to be in a HR Role and the rewards it brings.

British Tri-nations Butchery Competition: Team GB is ready!

by Walter Smith 01/07/2014

As the Tri-nations Butchery Competition draws near and the Australian and New-Zealand teams prepare to make their way to the UK, team GB have put themselves in front of the camera to give fans of the home nations something to cheer about now that they have no one left to support in the World Cup!

The Tri-nations is an important, high profile, international competition between GB, Australia and New Zealand.

The full schedule of events starts on 3rd July with the competition on Thursday 10th July followed by the prize giving in London at The Supermeat Awards.

This year the Competition is taking place at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate. Naturally, as the Tri-nations is taking place on home turf we want to win the competition and will be working closely with the other butchers from Lishman’s of Ilkley; Aubrey Allen; James of Shepperton and R Carter of Chase Farm Shop.

EBLEX is supporting team GB in the butchery competition, to promote awareness of the British beef and lamb farming and production industries.

Be sure to watch this short video of how Team GB are warming up for this event.

Walter Smith scoops 3 Awards at Q Guild Annual BBQ Awards

by Walter Smith 30/04/2014

Walter Smith scoops 3 awards as part of a red-hot contest between the best butchers from across the land. They came from far and wide to showcase their very best at the Q Guild annual BBQ Competition, held on Tues 29 April at the Weber Grill Academy in Oxford.

Well done to the participating staff from Lichfield, Knowle and Albrighton for their outstanding contribution.

"Highly Commended runner-up" in the 2014 Express & Star Business Awards

by Walter Smith 15/05/2014

Walter Smith were "Highly Commended runner-up" in the 2014 Express & Star Business Awards in the Apprentice Employer of the Year Awards. We had hoped that we'd win, on the back of our National Apprentice Service (NAS) National Apprentice Employer title won in November 2013. Although the competition was very strong and an engineering employer that has taken on 100 apprentices in the last 3 years beat us!

Walter Smith sponsored a table at the awards night held at Dunstall Racecourse, Wolverhampton and present were: Bill Jermey from FTC & FDQ, Robert Jones & Paul Cadman (Directors), Chris Riley from Stratford and Woodlands, and then the team from our Albrighton shop namely: Gaynor Richards, Stephen Hewitt, Nathan Forrester and George Scott.

Business Awards Express and Star
Business Awards Express and Star

As part of the judging for the competition, Paul, George and Chris made a joint presentation lasting just over an hour to 3 judges (from the sponsors Wolverhampton City Council) at the Food Academy. The judges gave us a grilling but on the night, the compare (Alan Deddicott - from the BBC) announced that the judges were particularly impressed with Walter Smith's standards of Customer Service (see video below).

It was a great evening and Walter Smith thanks all those who were involved in getting us nominated for this event

Walter Smith Wins Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Award

by Walter Smith 16/04/2014
2014 Excellence In People Logo

We are proud to announce that at the we have won the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce award for Excellence in Developing People 2014, demonstrating that we have been committed to training and developing staff since we were established in Lodge Road, Birmingham back in 1885.

Well done to all those who made this possible.

2014 Excellence In People Awards Winners
Excellence In People - Walter Smith Fine Foods Ltd

Here is a short video of the awards being received

Britains Premier Young Butcher 2014 Champion

by Walter Smith 26/3/2014
Young Butcher Champion

Chris Riley won the coveted Britain’s Premier Young Butcher 2014 title yesterday at the Foodex exhibition in Birmingham’s NEC by winning four of the six categories. 20 year old Chris beat four other 18 to 23 year old apprentice butchers in the five hour marathon, making and displaying Ready to Eat, Stuffed Roast, Seam Butchery, Barbeque and Kitchen Ready products.

Chris who works for Walter Smith at Woodlands Farm Shop in Leicestershire came first in the Stuffed Roast, Seam Butchery, Barbecue and Display categories. Already a rising star with the Midland multiple, Chris is a level three advanced apprentice in Meat and Poultry as well as a level two and three with merit in Health and Hygiene.

Chris will now go on to represent England in an International competition.


Click here for full story

#madebyapprentices Interview with Jack Fisher

by Walter Smith 25/3/2014

Walter Smith Scoops National Apprenticeship Award

by Walter Smith 20/1/2014
national apprenticeship awards

Nick Clegg Letter

Just before Christmas 2013, Walter Smith Fine Foods was "crowned" as the Medium Employer of the Year in the National Apprenticeship Awards at a ceremony at the the LG Arena NEC. We were the only food business recognised as a finalist at the high profile ceremony, attended by Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg and the Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock.

The Awards are run by the National Apprenticeship Service and recognise excellence in two areas: businesses that grow their own talent with apprentices and apprentices who have made a significant contribution to their workplaces.

We were chosen as the winner in recognition of our commitment to developing local young people through Apprenticeships. Established in 1885 we have a long heritage of training young butchers. In the last five years the company has taken on 50 apprentices which has translated to substantial business growth. It has also spurred on other staff members to improve their own skills and gain qualifications that recognise their high levels of skill and knowledge.

On accepting the award, Paul Cadman, HR Director, said: “Apprenticeships bring a myriad of benefits to our business. By training apprentices on and off the job we are able to mould and shape them in the ways we want and need them to behave. They become Walter Smith people who know our business and all of our shop managers were once apprentices themselves.

“We are hugely keen to encourage young people to enter this interesting and challenging sector. We are therefore now working on further industry projects and initiatives, supported by the Meat Training Council, which if approved will enable us to recruit and train apprentices for other independent butchers and fine food retailers. We hope this will lead to a further 250 apprentices and bring a much needed boost to high streets over the next four years.”

Meat Training Council Representative, Bill Jermey said: “This has been an incredible evening for Walter Smith Fine Foods, the meat industry and indeed the wider food industry.

“We have been supporting the Walter Smith Fine Foods training initiatives for a number of years now; and I was proud to be invited to join them as their guest.

The fact that such a highly prized award has been presented to an employer within our sector is symbolic of the increasing profile and prestige we are achieving in this industry.

“I would like to extend our congratulations to Paul and his team; this is the culmination of a great deal of hard work, and is richly deserved.

At the Meat Training Council we look forward to continuing to support Walter Smith Fine Foods in encouraging fresh talent into our sector. There are many opportunities available to our young people within this diverse industry. Please join us!”

Free Turkey's to Chelsea War Heroes

by Walter Smith 03/1/2014

Walter Smith's have beens supplying Caldecott's high quality, high welfare turkeys for many years and would like to share a recent news story for Mr & Mrs Caldecott....

Caldecott Turkey Farms has been a family run business for more than 60 years, providing high quality, high welfare turkey production all year round.

Robert Caldecott and his wife Anne, donated some of their farm-fresh traditional turkeys to the cherished war heroes at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

As a festive gesture Mr Caldecott presented them with 10 birds on Christmas Eve. The donation was made as part of the on-going Turkeys for Troops campaign which was launched last year by UK Turkeys and the NFU.

Click here for full story ....

Officially Listed - Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers

by Walter Smith 14/11/2013

The team here at Walter Smith Fine Foods are celebrating today after being recognised in the third Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list, announced at the National Apprenticeship Awards which took place during The Skills Show Birmingham.

The Top 100 list, compiled annually by the National Apprenticeship Service in Partnership with City & Guilds, recognises excellence in businesses that employ apprentices. It showcases the breadth of employers who now offer Apprenticeships, and we are proud that our organisation is on such a prestigious list.

Apprentices are hugely important to our organisation and we are delighted that everyone's hard work and dedication has been recognised in this way.

We have been committed to apprenticeships for over 100, traditionally apprentices are appointed straight from school with no vocational skills or qualifications. This suits our business because it allows us to mould the apprentice in to the kind of employee with the skills, attitudes and behaviours that are essential to us.

All our Shop Managers and even our Area Managers, were once Walter Smith Apprentices. This demonstrates that appointing apprentices is fundamental to the way we run our business and we would not sustain the business if we ceased this approach.

Walter Smith Wins Midland Region of the National Apprenticeship Awards 2013

by Walter Smith 28/10/2013
apprentice awards 2013

Walter Smith Fine Foods in Birmingham have been awarded Medium Employer of the Year 2013. Pictured are centre left - Kevin Reid (from the Northfield shop; runner up in the Apprentice of the Year competition) and centre right - Paul Cadman (HR Director) receiving the Company’s award at the Midland’s Area awards ceremony of the National Apprenticeship Awards 2013 held in Birmingham on 26th September 2013.

Paul Cadman, HR Director at Walter Smith Fine Foods, said: “we have photographic evidence of our founder G.A. Smith delivering apprenticeship training in the 1930s so Walter Smith has probably been training our skilled staff this way for over 100 year now.”

The National Awards will be held at the Skills Show at the NEC on 14th November 2013 but before then, a further selection will be made to reduce the regional winners down to 3 National finalists. On the 28th October Walter Smith learned that it had been selected as one of the 3 finalists.

The apprenticeship employer entries judged to be the very best will feature in the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list, produced by NAS in partnership with City & Guilds. We await news as to whether Walter Smith will gain this accolade.

Walter Smith was told that it had won the Medium Employer of the Year 2013 award so as to acknowledge and celebrate its on-going commitment and to showcase the benefits gained by developing its workforce through Apprenticeships.

In an industry where peoples’ skills and capabilities are of paramount importance, it is essential that there are infrastructures and mechanisms which enable the recruitment, retention and training of well qualified and competent people with real food industry experience and knowledge. Apprenticeships along with other structured programmes of support are viewed as an important part of meeting this requirement.

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