Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as 'building blocks' because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Butchers and meat cutters, retail and wholesale, prepare standard cuts of meat, poultry, fish and shellfish for sale in retail and wholesale food establishments. They are employed in supermarkets, grocery stores, butcher shops, fish stores or may be self-employed. Butchers who are supervisors or heads of departments are included in this group.
- Encounter packaging defects and poor quality meat products from suppliers. They tag the products and inform their managers. (1)
- Experience low sales and the resulting overstocking of certain meat cuts, poultry and fish products. Depending on the types of cuts and products and their expiration dates, they may cut, grind, marinate and cook the meat, poultry, fish and shellfish to offer alternative products and increase the shelf life. They may reduce prices and freeze items to avoid spoilage. They reduce product inventories to minimize overstocking problems in the future. (2)
- Find that customers are dissatisfied with products and services. For example, they receive complaints about meat and poultry being tough or fatty and fish going bad quickly. They discuss storage and cooking methods to determine if products were stored too long and prepared incorrectly. They advise customers about proper storage and cooking procedures and may offer customers free products and discounts on future purchases. (2)
- Are unable to complete cutting and preparation tasks and keep products at required temperatures because of equipment breakdowns. They replace components such as broken blades and if necessary call service technicians and inform their managers. They move products to other freezers and refrigerators to avoid spoilage. They adjust their activities such as manually cutting meats to ensure they meet order deadlines. (2)
- Experience reductions in sales for certain products after negative news reports about contamination and disease. They share facts about products safety with customers to alleviate their concerns and to increase their product knowledge. (3)
- May decide the types of cuts and weights per item when carving wholesale cuts of meat and fish into retail cuts or small servings to maximize the yield of each wholesale cut. They are guided by specifications, but other factors such as fat distribution, weight, grain of cuts, animal breed for beef and thickness for fish filets are considered. (2)
- May choose quantities, types and thicknesses of meat, poultry, fish and shellfish to prepare and package for display cases. For example, butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers in retail locations consider customers' purchasing trends, products' shelf lives, amounts of time needed to prepare items and expected wastage. They review past sales statistics and consider customers' requests for items and comments about products offered in the past. (3)
- May select equipment and suppliers. For example, self-employed and head butchers and fishmongers make purchasing and renting decisions for knives and processing equipment. They consider prices, quality, maintenance service and their personal preferences. When selecting meat suppliers they consider product selection, required quantities, quality, prices and delivery options. Head butchers may require department managers' approvals for expensive equipment purchases and changes to suppliers. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing
- May evaluate the visual appeal of retail displays. For example, butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers in retail locations use established criteria such as aesthetics, food safety and overall neatness to judge the appeal of display cases and racks. (1)
- Evaluate the quality of products such as meat, poultry, fish and shellfish and of supplies such as marinades, spices and fresh vegetables. They use criteria such as particular colours, smells and textures when inspecting supplies and retail products. (2)
Own Job Planning and Organizing
Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers generally organize their own tasks within established daily schedules. Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers in retail locations respond to customers' enquires and orders while completing daily meat cutting and preparation tasks. Changing priorities and lack of space and equipment sometimes complicate their daily job task planning. (2)
Planning and Organizing for Others
Self-employed and head butchers and fishmongers may be responsible for planning work assignments and training new workers. They plan cutting and food preparation schedules for the butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers who they supervise. (2)
Significant Use of Memory
- Remember verbal details and instructions from supervisors and customers such as the types and quantities of meat, poultry, fish and shellfish to package. They also remember customers' preferences.
- Find information about new cooking tips and consumer purchasing trends for meat, poultry, fish and shellfish. For example, they read customer service sheets, magazine articles and recipes for preparing and cooking meats to share with customers. (2)
Other Essential Skills:
Working with Others
Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers work independently to cut and prepare meats. They coordinate activities with co-workers to share resources such as grinders and cutters. They integrate tasks with co-workers when moving larger cuts of meat and fish and when cleaning and maintaining equipment. (2)
Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers need to keep up to date on consumer purchasing trends, industry issues and general information about meat, poultry, fish and shellfish. They frequently read memos, bulletins, fact sheets and consumer reports provided by their own organizations, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and federal and provincial ministries. They learn new skills through daily work experiences, by observing other co-workers and by reading cookbooks and life style magazines. They may participate in training programs provided by their employers covering topics such as the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System, safe food handling and first aid. (2)