For a group of four unemployed youngsters, December 7 was passing out day at McIntosh Donald in Portlethen. The great news at the end of a five week course organised and funded by the National Food and Drink Academy, was that all four course participants were told that they would be starting full time jobs within the Aberdeenshire meat plant on the following Monday morning.
Darren Klos, Ian Clark and Greg Drysder started in the Further Processing and Packing section and Lauren Hoon was employed in the Technical Department. Over the duration of the course, the four teenagers were given a full induction into the meat industry and into McIntosh Donald’s own procedures. The training undertaken by Helen Johnston and Malachi McCann from the Perth based, Scottish Meat Training, included food safety, health and safety, communication, confidence building and knife skills.
The course also involved work experience for all four in the meat plant, starting work in a busy department at 6.00am each day. The participants got involved with bagging, vac packing, labelling, palletising meat and processing offal as well as putting into practice the specialised training in knife skills.
All four have been unemployed for up to six months and freely admitted it was tough finding a job in the current labour market. The course aptly named ‘Tasty Jobs’ addresses the issues which prevent the unemployed person from securing a long-term employment opportunity, gets them ready for work with the objective of creating a pool of local people who can fill local jobs.
McIntosh Donald immediately emptied this newly formed pool as their Managing Director, Alan McNaughton explained: “We recognised four willing guys who had shown that they were keen to progress. Let’s give them a chance we thought and although there were no immediate vacancies we will slot them in ready to fill gaps when they appear.”
Lauren Hoon is originally from South Africa but like the three young men now lives in Stonehaven. She claimed that she went on the course because she wanted to do something out of her comfort zone. Darren Los was keen to come and see what it would be like working at the Portlethen plant that employs 290 staff and has an annual turnover of £125m. Both Ian and Greg had previous short term jobs at Arla Foods and as a local trainee chef but all are very appreciative of the opportunity to work full time and what it will bring to their lives.