28 January 2002

Feature Article
Golden Shears programme


Employer sold on Modern Apprenticeships

Hastings-based shearing contractor, Kerry Brannigan, is one employer who is sold on the Modern Apprenticeships scheme.

He already has three apprentices in his gangs and is keen to take on another.

Kerry believes one of the best things about the apprenticeships scheme is that it shows a commitment by all three parties, which ties them together.

"WoolPro gives us guidelines and support under the scheme. The apprentice gets a commitment from me that I’ll look after them, and I know I’m getting a person who wants to get on. As an employer, I know that I’m not wasting my time with an apprentice," he says.

There are other advantages to having apprentices, according to Kerry, such as the other training they get on the scheme having positive spin-offs for the gang.

"Two of my apprentices have done WoolPro’s computer skills course, and they have had communication training. The communication skills are good as it means I know they’ll get on better with the other people in the gang and with the farmer."

While many shearers move between gangs, apprentices get extra help from their employers, who are committed to making sure they get regular and varied work.

According to Kerry, giving work to someone else’s apprentice is a safe bet for a contractor.

"Contractors who take on another’s apprentice can be confident that they’re getting someone who can do a good job, who can communicate well with others and who should be able to work up to taking more responsibility.

"The young ones have to move around more because they don’t always get a lot of work with one gang. We can put them on a fast track so they can increase their numbers.

"I like to get my apprentices into other gangs who’ll look after them and who’ll give them experience shearing in other parts of the country."

Kerry says he’s seen the growth in his apprentices.

"Two of mine have been shearing solid for more than 12 months, and they’re now up to scratch as good shearers. If we hadn’t moved them around, they wouldn’t be where they are now."

And WoolPro’s regionally-based shearer training gets the thumbs up from Kerry.

"In our area, Willie [Power, WoolPro’s Wairoa-based shearing instructor] is getting around all the apprentices fairly regularly. You can see how the visits encourage them. Willie’s not there all the time, but they know that WoolPro is working for them, and the support is great."

Kerry Brannigan says an apprenticeship is good for the apprentices in ways that go beyond the shearing skills.

"I see them becoming better people who do better in their lives. Being on a scheme gives them a better attitude to the job and gives them a more professional edge.

"They become more rounded people and better employees, so we all do well out of the arrangement."



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