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December 2004, Volume 15, Number 11
Working with Wool
Shearing is about to get a revamp as a career option in South Canterbury, thanks to interest from the local industry and the Aoraki Development Trust...
The project comes amidst concern for the future of the industry as a result of research showing the average age of shearers is close to 48, a lack of shearers and wool handlers and a declining number of young people entering the industry.
The Wool Harvesting Labour Market Development Project will research effective training methods for budding shearers and wool handlers, as well as help experienced shearers refine their techniques to provide a better fleece for the farmer and less damage to their bodies.
“Farmers spend thousands of dollars getting the best fleece possible, but they also need to get the fleece off the sheep in the best way possible,” says trust client manager James Smith.
“Intervention is needed to ensure an important export industry is protected and enhanced,” says Eric Solomon who, along with fellow shearer Colin Coochey (from Work with Wool) is providing the in-shed training component of the project.
“We are working with existing shearers and encouraging young people to see the industry as a good career option. We’re helping them to make it easier on their bodies so they can improve their health and wellbeing and enjoy their work,” says Eric.
“Farmers and shearers realise that they can both gain from understanding one another’s role in the industry,” says Colin.
The trust, which receives funding from the Timaru District Council, provides advice to businesses to enhance the economic well-being of the region. The trust will provide business advice and enterprise training as part of the project.
“The shearing and wool handling quality in New Zealand needs to be maintained to add increased value to wool prices,” says Colin. “Increases in farmers’ income can lead to increased income to the shearers and wool handlers.”
Community Employment Group fieldworker Danny Gresham, who has provided advice and support, says that extensive industry research is being undertaken into the needs of all stakeholders in the wool harvesting industry. “The primary outcome from the project will be to gain advice from the people who are involved in the industry at all levels and develop a strategy to get the best for our region.”
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