The Shearing Contractors Association of Australia has taken on the role of training the next generation of shearers, shed hands and wool classers in SA.
SCAA shearer woolhandler training executive officer Glenn Haynes believes the switch on July 1 from tafeSA to his organisation will make training more accessible in the regions and ensure more consistency between states.
Next week, the SCAA will hold its first shearer and shed hand school - a five-day novice school at Pinindi near Willalooka, with 11 more planned in coming months.
SCAA has been providing training in Vic since 1997, when the organisation was formed by a group of shearing contractors.
It has also been running Australian Wool Innovation in-shed training and workshops across southern Australia for the past few years.
"It is run by industry, owned by industry and will just give industry what it needs," Mr Haynes said.
Many of the trainers employed by tafeSA will continue on with SCAA.
In Vic, SCAA is training about 90 woolclassers regionally and Mr Haynes hopes to replicate this geographical spread across SA, where nearly 70 students have expressed interest.
tafeSA previously required all woolclassing students to travel to Gilles Plains in Adelaide.
"Farmers just can't afford to jump off the farm and head away for two weeks to Adelaide for a course," he said.
On many farms, dad or grandpa who had the stencil have moved off farm and retired so the next generation need to get their own.
"And wool handlers that want to become professional classers are not being paid while they are away doing the course and they have to pay for accommodation and have the course fee on top."
It has been four years since the last owner/classer course was held in SA for those looking to class their own clips.
Mr Haynes said the high number of contact hours - the same as professional classers - deterred many woolgrowers from signing up, but working with the Industry Skills Training Council he says SCAA has been successful in reducing the course length. This has renewed interest.
"On many farms, dad or grandpa who had the stencil have moved off farm and retired so the next generation need to get their own," he said.
Nathan Wardle, Naracoorte, is among 24 SA students who enrolled in Vic and have been transferred back to SA, with a new owner/classer course to start in Naracoorte next month.
He says it is great news being able to gain his woolclasser stencil locally.
"When I rang tafeSA to find out about the course, I kept getting transferred from department to department and then they worked out the local tafeSA office had been shut down," he said.
"It will be a good thing not having to travel up to Adelaide in a 600-kilometre round trip or travel 170km across the border."
Mr Haynes says graduates of all their courses are "almost guaranteed" to get a job. And he said training new people and upskilling others could be even more important this year if fewer New Zealanders make their way to Australia in spring due to COVID-19.
tafeSA remains committed to ag courses in SA
tafeSA has recognised an industry-specific registered training organisation, the Shearing Contractors Association of Australia, was better placed to delivery shearing and wool courses going forward.
But tafeSA primary industries, animal and laboratory sciences education manager Trish Colbey says they remains strongly committed to delivering training across the agricultural industry.
"tafeSA continues to be a preferred provider of agricultural qualifications to support the SA dairy industry," she said.
"We also provide strong educational pathways for high school students into nationally accredited agricultural vocational qualifications in preparation for employment in the industry.
"We also continue to deliver agricultural and rural operations qualifications and our commitment to the industry is highlighted by a new Certificate IV in Agribusiness which is soon to be launched."
Livestock SA president Joe Keynes said there had been some concerns about the level of commitment by tafeSA to shearer, shedhand and woolclasser training and the Shearing Contractors Association was an "obvious choice" to replace them.
"They have the "runs on the board" delivering programs throughout Vic, southern NSW and Tas for a number of years and they have assured us they can deliver the same high level of training to SA," he said.
"It is really critical that we have the ability to have shearers know how to shear sheep well, with animal welfare a top priority, and look after themselves as well," he said.
"We also need to ensure that we go to market with the best prepared fleeces to maintain the quality of Australian wool."
Mr Keynes said Livestock SA was keen to work closely with tafeSA on the delivery of ag skills education and ensure their courses continued to be offered in the regions and were relevant to the needs of the industry.
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