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8 February 2001

Feature Article
Golden Shears programme

Advanced shearing courses now run regionally

WoolPro is making it easier for shearers to do advanced courses closer to home.

Until now, WoolPro has run its learners’ courses, trade days and in-shed training at many sites in the regions. But its advanced training courses have been held in Palmerston North, Christchurch and Balclutha.

Now WoolPro has strengthened its regional shearing and wool handling training. The country has been divided into six regions and responsibility for all training requirements in each region – including advanced courses – has been given to selected senior shearing coordinators.

To make this possible, two new full-time instructors have joined the training team. Willie Power, based in Wairoa, will coordinate training on the North Island’s East Coast. Bruce Walker, Owaka, has taken charge south of the Waitaki.

Along with the existing shearing staff – Bill Birdsall, Peter Taylor, Russell Knight, Colin King and Gavin Rowland – Walker and Power are offering in-shed training to groups organised by farmers or shearing contractors.

WoolPro’s shearing services manager, Gavin Rowland, says each area will now get its fair share of training.

“It used to be that it was a bit of an adventure for shearers to come to a main centre to do a course. But the courses are four days, plus travelling time, and people don’t want to take as much time out from work as they used to,” he says.

“We’ve run the odd advanced course in the regions already. The fine wool shearing courses have been run in the regions for three years. With Willie and Bruce on board it’ll be easier to run these advanced courses closer to where the demand is.”

WoolPro’s shearing training begins at the learner level, for those with little or no experience in shearing. Its advanced course progresses through junior, intermediate and senior levels. In total, around 1200 trainees go through all courses each year.

For beginner shearers, WoolPro’s learner courses are run provincially and don’t require previous experience.

The advanced course requires trainees to have either passed their learners’ programme or demonstrate they can shear on their own without assistance.

With another two instructors, WoolPro is able to offer both a greater range of courses in more areas, and introduce more people to the wool harvesting industry.

Rowland says the number of regional advanced courses WoolPro runs will depend on demand. However, this doesn’t mean that there will be more courses.

According to Palmerston North-based senior shearing instructor, Peter Taylor, the WoolPro instructors have more on their plates now.

“With the Modern Apprenticeships scheme and the work we do with schools, we have more to do anyway.”

This means that the instructor’s job is becoming broader, he says.

“In the past, we worked solely with the shearing industry, dealing with contractors and the like. Now, we are some of WoolPro’s regional representatives to the wider sheep industry. That means that we are out there networking with more people, including other training providers.”

And it’s not all shearing training. WoolPro also runs the comprehensive Certificate in Wool Handling Systems and a range of wool handling certificate courses (see sidebar).

Shearing and wool handler training is all part of the industry’s quality management programme. WoolPro is always looking at improving the quality of the wool. As skill levels of people working in the industry improve, so does wool quality.

And that’s got to be good for everyone involved.

Wool handling and classing courses vital for quality

WoolPro’s wool handling certificates can be done at junior, intermediate, senior and advanced levels, and eventually allow you to become a shed leader – a requirement in every four–stand Fernmark–certified woolshed.

WoolPro also runs the Certificate in Wool Handling Systems, which is compulsory for anyone starting down the track to becoming a classer. This course is run by correspondence, so it’s less expensive in terms of travel and other costs, and employers don’t have to keep releasing their workers so they can attend courses that aren’t in their area. It usually takes two years to complete, but this is flexible.

This means that people can go on short, sharp courses, and do them locally. The course is run as flexibly as possible, so most of the time people can organise their study around their work and still remain at home.

The classing course covers everything from the basics of wool production to identification, grading, classing, and processing, right through to the finished product.

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