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Britain’s first female abattoir apprentice passes her EPA

Ionela Bacioiu (known as Dana) has become the UK’s first female abattoir apprentice to succeed in her FDQ Level 2 Abattoir Worker Apprenticeship end-point assessment (EPA). From Romania to England, from teacher to a qualified Abattoir Worker. Dana has had a tough but successful period of training, benefitting from the expertise of training provider, Workforce Training and Development (WTD), support from her employer, Karro Food Group, and finally encouragement on EPA day from her FDQ assessor.


First steps to becoming an abattoir apprentice

With a background in English teaching, Dana never imagined herself becoming an abattoir apprentice. When the opportunity arose with Karro Food Group, she says curiosity influenced her to give it a try. With help from colleagues at Karro and trainers at WTD, Jim Hutchinson, Amy Witham, Joss Faulkner and more, Dana began her journey within the abattoir industry. With English not being Dana’s first language, she found the beginning of her apprenticeship to be quite challenging. At first “there were many words I didn’t know” but “this industry gave me the opportunity to learn English – it made it easier for me to adapt” she says. Although a tough beginning, Dana progressed well in the role, becoming more confident with her knife skills and hygiene knowledge in preparation for her EPA.


End-point assessment

To prepare for her end-point assessment, Dana found it useful to practice the elements of the EPA very often, with the help from observations by management. Leading up to EPA day, she says she was glad to receive “all the support I needed” from FDQ.

Dana speaks fondly of her EPA experience - mentioning she’d actually enjoyed the experience and that it beat her expectations. Dana went on to successfully receive a pass grade, an extraordinary achievement after having to learn everything from scratch.

The overall apprenticeship experience helped Dana change from being shy to confident. She’s now happy to demonstrate her abilities in her work with Karro Food Group.



Awards and accolades

Dana achieved the Abattoir Apprentice of the Year award at the Institute of Meat Awards 2022. Her award was presented by Princess Anne. An award that represents the great work she has put in since the beginning of her apprenticeship.



Plans for the future

Dana eventually wants become a manager, with ambition to progress her career in the meat industry. She also encouraged her husband to join the abattoir industry, and hopes to continue to inspire him to better his career alongside her.

When asked why more women should join the abattoir industry Dana answers, “Why not? Try it – it’s a good challenge.” adding, “I’ve built big relationships here – I’ve shown how a woman can do this role”


Joss Faulkner, Workforce Training and Development said of his apprentice, -

‘Over the 15 month period, Dana was completely focused, not only working on her skills, but her dedication to the abattoir knowledge and the more technical aspects of the standard was nothing short of inspirational.’



To find out more about FDQ’s Level 2 Abattoir Worker end-point assessment see below,

Level 2 Abattoir Worker End-point Assessment: https://www.fdq.org.uk/l2abattoir

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