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Shearer shortage extends to wool classers

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A significant shortage of shearers in parts of Australia is being matched by demand for wool classers, opening fresh opportunities for high-paid work across south-west Victoria.

South West TAFE is starting new wool classing courses at the end of February in Hamilton, Mortlake and Winchelsea and expects demand to be strong as the wool industry seeks skilled workers.

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) Program Manager, Wool Harvesting Training and Development, Craig French, said wool classing was one of the great in-demand jobs in the wool industry.

“It is a highly sought-after role that is an essential part of the industry,” he said.

Mr French added that there would be opportunities for new graduates. “The Australian wool industry is the lifeblood to many rural towns and communities and has a bright future,” he said.

South West TAFE wool classing teacher Stuart MacPherson said the entire wool industry was in need of workers, opening great opportunities for trained people.

“There has been a lot of focus on the shortage of shearers, but it’s the same for wool handlers and wool classers,” Mr MacPherson said.

“Because of the shortages, many farms have had to pay higher than award rates to attract people.”

Wool classing is listed as a Job Trainer course, meaning eligible people can study at low cost.

Certificate IV in Wool Classing graduates can register with the Australian Wool Exchange to receive an Australian classer registration, allowing them to work as registered classers in shearing sheds anywhere across Australia.

Mr MacPherson said the course focussed on practical skills, with students working with wool to learn about its characteristics and the requirements for classing following the Australian Wool Exchange code of practice for how the wool clip is to be prepared.

“Another important part of being a wool classer is supervising the other wool handlers in the shed and the management of contamination,” Mr MacPherson said.

“It is very much leading a team environment and they take on responsibility to manage and instruct the team so they need a well-rounded knowledge of the tasks of a wool handler as well as classing.

WoolProducers Australia CEO Jo Hall said parts of Australia were experiencing a significant shortage in shearers, which had led to above-award rates being paid.

Ms Hall said WoolProducers was coordinating efforts with relevant industry stakeholders at a national level and had been working constructively to work on medium and longer-term strategies to address attraction and retention issues in the wool harvesting sector.

The course runs in the evening so students can continue working during the day. The qualification is recognised across all states.

To find out more about the South West TAFE wool classing course, call 1300 648 911.

 

 

SWTAFE Wool Classing teacher Stuart MacPherson.