What was it like getting a job at Butcher's?
Many of those who started work at Butcher's as teenagers went along with their mothers the first time.
Until the 1950s and 1960s, almost every skilled job was started by apprenticeships, and JH Butcher had the largest number of apprentices in Birmingham working on the litho machines. They started by sweeping the floor and making the tea, then gradually built up skill. Because the JH Butcher apprentices had such a wide breadth of experience, they were highly sought-after by other companies once they qualified. By 50s and 60s, it was much more difficult to have apprentices, as unions had demanded comparable pay to qualified staff.
Ken Hamilton applied for a 7-year apprenticeship at JH Butcher's. Ken's mother accompanied him to the interview, so Ken didn't have to say much.
Back in the mid 20th century, businesses were very different from today. There was much less competition, so companies tended to have more money and time to work with. Delivery times for orders were weeks or months, rather than days, as they usually are now. Even the management had understudies – people who were trained on the job for 10-15 years waiting for their superior to retire.