WHEN the call went out seeking producers to hold shearing courses, farmer Richard Kirkland, Furner, was quick to put his hand up to help.
A former shearer himself, last week Mr Kirkland welcomed 15 students onto his property in an effort to open doors for new people wanting to enter the sheep industry.
Participants came from the Mid North and South East, Bordertown and Adelaide, and stayed on-farm to learn from some of SA’s best shearers.
Mr Kirkland said many students had already been offered work in the sheep industry, which was a great incentive for newcomers.
“There are always work opportunities in sheep sheds if you are prepared to put in the hard yards – you can make good money, it can be up to $300 in your pocket after a day’s work,” he said.
“We had some of the best shearing instructors in the business and students were able to learn a massive amount. The amount of respect for the instructors was evident.”
Next year’s shearing school at Mr Kirkland’s property is already being planned, and may expand to two schools throughout the year.
Golden Grove’s Jack Kerby took a chance and attended the course after hearing about the opportunity through a friend.
With no background in agriculture, Mr Kerby said getting away from the city and learning new skills was enough of a reason to get involved.
“The hard work is rewarding and all your hard work pays off,” he said.
“Shearing offers a good opportunity to combine travel and work, while earning good money.”
Mr Kerby has his sights set on becoming a roustabout before working his way up to becoming a shearer.
“The shearing school has been such a great learning experience and I have met some really good blokes,” he said.
Shearing instructor David Brooker said the entry shearing course allowed anyone to learn the wool trade.
He said apprentices, mature age students and people from other industries had undertaken the course to learn new skills.
“Even people who have never set foot in a shearing shed before have joined up and that is what we do, we teach them the basics and give them a skill they can take anywhere,” he said.
“Three students have already been offered employment.”
Mr Brooker said it was not only up to new people entering the industry to meet the demand for shearers, but also woolgrowers have a responsibility.
“We have to lift our game because as we send these new entrants out into the workforce, if they don’t have a good experience they will not continue in the industry,” he said.
“Woolgrowers need to provide facilities so people enjoy their environment – it is a tough job and needs the right conditions for people to survive the experience.”
NEW LEADERS FILL SHEARER SHORTAGE
PEOPLE from all walks of life have begun filling Tafe SA shearing schools as the sheep industry continues to experience an increase in the number of interested students.
Tafe SA shearing coordinator Glenn Haynes said although 21 learner and 10 improver shearing schools are presently held each year, they had decided to increase because of an industry shortage and “the demand just keeps coming”.
“We are beginning new shearing schools because people are missing out on places, so we thought let’s start approaching farmers who could hold one,” he said.
“In the South East most producers have increased their flock size by about 10 per cent of what they had 12 to 18 months ago, so we need to get shearers trained up to meet this expansion of the sheep industry.
Mr Haynes said Tafe SA was also focused on promoting the shearing industry more widely within communities.
He said this approach had also contributed to the influx of interested students.