30 November 2001

Media Release
Otago-Southland Farmer

Good keen young wool workers hit Southland

The wool industry’s hands-on training programme for young people – the Modern Apprenticeships Scheme – is working to attract good, keen young people into the wool industry.

The scheme, which was launched for the wool industry in July last year, now has 28 young people signed up on three year agreements between them, their shearing contractor employers and WoolPro.

Eighteen-year-old shearer Brian Kerr is one such apprentice, hand-picked by his Balclutha-based employer Ronny Davis and WoolPro because of his enthusiasm on the job.

Brian says he’s enjoying the regularity of work and the support he gets from Ronny, and WoolPro shearing instructor Bruce Walker.

"I’m getting to shear a lot more sheep than I would have if I hadn’t become an apprentice," Brian says.

"I also get a visit from WoolPro every three months or so, so we can set goals and they can see how I’m getting on."

Once apprentices sign up to the scheme, they’re encouraged to set goals for themselves – about one goal a month if possible.

Apprentices gain a wide variety of skills and have the security of ongoing employment, while employers ensure that the industry has a first class workforce for the future.

Outside a core subject – either shearing or wool handling – apprentices follow a personalised training plan, which can include units in agriculture, first aid, communication, computers, leadership or running a small business. They can also set goals for other things that interest them.

Brian’s first target was to consistently shear 180 sheep through the pre-lamb period, though he says next time he meets with Bruce Walker he’ll probably lift that target. He recently passed a WoolPro junior shearing course, he’s also studying to get his firearms license, and wants to do a mechanics course.

"They’re all things I’ve wanted to do, because I want to have a couple of different trades I can do if I want to.

"After I’ve done my apprenticeship I was thinking about going overseas, maybe to America – but I’ll always be able to come back to shearing."

Brian’s employer, and president of the Shearing Contractors Association Ronny Davis believes the scheme will deliver good quality young people into the industry.

"The people that are on the programme are the sort of people that I hope will be the leading gangers of the future," he says.

He says the scheme is working because of the support from the contractors association and WoolPro.

"WoolPro has been really great in that it’s involved the contractors organisation from the start, and kept in constant touch with us to ensure that it will meet our needs, and to see how we’re going with it."

[ends]

For more information about the Modern Apprenticeships scheme, contact:

WoolPro training development manager Trevor Gardiner,
tel 04 471 4654