Diploma candidates on the staff – money in the bank
Anxious faces. Nervous hands. November saw the diploma exam in meat for nine companies in the meat industry.
Education for the Diploma for skilled workers in the meat industry is built up with a base module consisting of an eight course days, the last day of which is also an oral exam. All participants spend the course working on a project they have chosen themselves, based on what is relevant for their own companies. It is this project work that is presented during the oral exam. The total education period lasts about 1 year. After completing the course and passing the oral exam, you can add the title Diploma to your craft certificate for the meat trade, giving you a diploma for wholesale butchery, sausage making or shop butchery, for example.
This is the third time the meat diploma course has been organised. By taking part, skilled workers achieve a personal investment in the form of increased expertise, motivation and a wide network of contacts among other participants and specialist environments like Animalia and Nofima Mat. Having people of diploma standard on the staff has proved to be a profitable investment for the companies. Some examples of this are reduced wastage, better internal collaboration, new routines, improved food safety, and a boost for sales.
Focus on liver pate
Rino Johansen and Espen Østhaug of Stabburet took their diploma in improving quality and reducing thawing wastage for Stabburet’s liver pate. The liver pate is currently produced from tempered liver, which leads to a good deal of wastage of blood serum, with consequences for the colour and consistency of the end product. They previously tried to mince the liver from frozen, but this was not successful.
This was the background to Rino Johansen and Espen Østhaug’s diploma course. They tested tempered liver with salt in a premix. When they had developed the best premix of liver, they changed over the whole batch in large-scale production.
"A premix of liver and salt worked well. We reduce wastage from thawing by 3% by using the premix and we have better control of the temperature. With a premix, we get the same temperature every time. That safeguards food safety," explain the two diploma candidates. "We have also halved the time it takes to mince the liver. With full production, we save 30 minutes per batch. The challenge is getting the temperature right. We hope the next step will be to invest in a storage silo for premix, for better temperature control."
HACCP was in focus at Arctic rein og vilt. This small, specialist reindeer and game company in Mo i Rana has a turnover of NOK 10 million a year. Mark Jackson and Camilla Leiråmo emphasise what a big responsibility it is to run a food company. The want to get into the supermarkets, but haven’t been able to do this without HACCP approval. Their turnover has been growing steadily and they have had to decide whether they want to be bigger or stay as they are today. A key question was therefore: Is there anything we can do more efficiently? Now the little company has implemented HACCP.
"We can be surer that we have safer products and we can be surer that we have high quality. We have gained access to a bigger market, because now we have got into the supermarkets. An extra plus is that the diploma course has given us the opportunity to get a better idea of each other’s work areas and led to better routines internally," explained Mark Jackson.
Want more candidates
Among this year’s group of 12 candidates there were 10 who, in addition to taking the diploma exam, also wanted to have the course approved for study points at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB). This shows that there are many motivated and ambitious people in both the meat industry and retailing who want formal recognition of their expertise. Approval of 10 study points requires participants, in addition to the oral exam, to also hand in a written paper on the project to external examiners at UMB.
"Many of the participants are not used to making a presentation in front of an audience. They discover how much fun it can be to present work that you are proud of and that you have been working on for a long time. Often the path to learning has been strewn with frustration, challenges, surprises and pleasure. Things that you will usually find in most development projects and that are important to take with you into new projects after completing the diploma course," says Stine Alm Hersleth, Senior Project manager at Nofima Mat. She is very happy with this year’s candidates and hopes to see more companies showing interest in joining.
These organisations took part in the third diploma course in meat
- Meny Grim
- COOP Mega Halsøy
- Matvarehuset Lade
- Hønefoss Upper Secondary School
- H. O. Grindheim
- Stabburet AS
- Arctic Rein og Vilt
- Nortura Forhus
The industry association NHO Mat og Bio is behind the course and they are the ones who issue the diplomas. The course is administered and operated by SEVU-UMB and Nofima Mat has technical responsibility.
The meat diploma candidates have created their own group on Facebook.