The demand from SA youth to expand their shearing knowledge has skyrocketed, with a waiting list for TAFE’s improver courses.
While there is still a short-fall of shearers in the state at peak times, industry figures are pleased with the interest from the next generation looking to enter the industry.
Livestock SA president Geoff Power said the strong interest was needed.
“We’re training plenty of people in SA, there’s actually a waiting list of people trying to get into shearing schools,” he said.
“Extra shearers are needed because with increased sheep numbers and people shearing more than once a year, it is putting pressure on the industry.
“The other issue is that shearers are an ageing group, there’s a lot of guys more than 50 years old still shearing, so we need younger people to take up the challenge.”
Mr Power said there were a few reasons for the interest in learning shearing skills.
“It’s an opportunity for people to earn really good money at a young age,” he said.
“There’s also a lot of optimism in the rural industry across the state, understandably, so we’ve got more kids coming back on-farm.”
Angaston Show’s 2017 Rural Ambassador Rebekah Rushton recently completed a shearing school.
She enrolled to further her career opportunities within the agricultural industry.
“I realised that I have a strong love for the wool industry and wanted to learn another aspect of it,” she said.
“There are more female shearers getting around in the shed and it’s inspiring to those like me who are getting involved now.
“I have been lucky to have found work in a shearing team as a shed hand since completing the school.”
Mernowie Poll Merino stud principal Ian Rowett has run a shearing school on his farm at Marrabel for 25 years.
“The places in the school have been filled every year,” he said.
“The feature of this year’s school was the number of young farmers’ sons who were keen to go on and do some shearing work. Often they just want to learn the skills to go back on-farm.”
Mr Rowett said it was important the next generation was encouraged into the industry.
“In this district, shearer numbers aren’t too bad, there’s a reasonable balance between available shearers and work,” he said.
“But there’s certainly not a surplus of shearers and with increasing sheep numbers, a shortage could be an issue down the track.”
TAFE lecturer Glenn Haynes said the demand for shearing schools was enormous, but there was not the same demand for wool handling courses.
“With our learner schools, they’re pretty much full right across the state, even at our new one at Nundroo on the far west of the Eyre Peninsula,” he said.
“There’s a waiting list for our improver schools.
“The only bad thing is the demand to learn shed hand and wool handling skills is really lacking, and it’s not just in SA, it’s the same right across Vic and NSW, so we’re pushing to a get a few new ones into that side of the industry.”
Mr Haynes believes media attention surrounding award-winning shearers such as Shannon Warnest, who is also a trainer with TAFE, is helping to encourage young people’s interest in the industry.
“The world championships held in New Zealand attracted a heap of media coverage and there were a lot of young kids watching the livestreams from it,” he said.
- Details: Farmers interested in running a shearer improver course on their property can contact Glenn Haynes on 0411 326 793 or email Glenn.Haynes@tafesa.edu.au