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Students flock to Shearing School

Macintyre High School students and those involved in the Wool Works Shearing School at Glen Innes in July 2018.
Macintyre High School students and those involved in the Wool Works Shearing School at Glen Innes in July 2018.

Students flock to Shearing School

Inverell’s Macintyre High School Students have flocked to Wool Works, a new shearing school initiative. The 20 students in their mid-teens appreciated the hands-on education. The first three-day school was held this week from Monday to Wednesday.  

“By providing young people with agricultural skills at an early age, we are securing their footing on a career path in the industry,” RDANI Chair Russell Stewart said. “Our October 2017 one-day trial was a real success and the level of interest we are fielding from schools near and far is a positive for the agricultural sector”

Wool Works is a shearing and wool handling program for secondary school students coordinated by Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) at the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Glen Innes Agricultural Research and Advisory Station.

As Assistant Minister for Skills and Member for Northern Tablelands, the Hon. Adam Marshall visited the Wool Works Shearing School on Tuesday. “It is great to see young people taking an early interest in acquiring an important skill in rural NSW like shearing,” he said. “This initiative is delivered by a team of individuals and organisations, working to make a difference where a need was identified; from what I saw, they are doing just that.”

“I was thrilled to see so many enthusiastic students from Macintyre High taking advantage of this opportunity – they even helped me learn a thing or two about fleece management,” Mr Marshall said.

“Our planned initial trial in October 2016 was washed out, and with the rain arriving for this one, the school is a good luck omen. Fortunately, the sheep were dry in the shearing shed and the rain brought nothing but smiles,” Project Coordinator and RDANI Executive Director Nathan Axelsson said.

Thanks to Australian Wool Innovation, experienced shearers Ross Thompson and Leo Fittler instructed and supervised, while the students rolled up their sleeves and had a go. Experienced TAFE Trainers, Pauline Smith and Kim Jenkins showed what working the shearing shed floor entails. Regional Manager for Prime Super Annette Mackay gave the rural students a presentation on basic financial literacy and the importance of superannuation.

“Given the interest from schools and what this means for the wool industry into the future, we are now aiming to run more regular Wool Works Shearing Schools per year, for school students and job seekers,” Mr. Axelsson said.

Long-time advocate for rural youth employment initiatives, Russell Stewart is thrilled with the response the project has received. “This is the sort of grass-roots practical initiative we want to see linked to the Australian Government’s recently announced Regional Employment Trials Program,” he said. “It’s not just about shearing or wool-handling, the shed is a great environment to learn teamwork, work ethics, camaraderie and to contribute to the development of the work attitude our rural employers want to see in young people. In a shearing shed, everyone focusses on getting the job done.”

The Wool Works shearing and wool handling program is unique. It is providing introductory training and nurturing interest in a vital skill-in-demand in rural Australia. It has been made possible through collaboration between RDANI, NSW DPI, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services, TAFE New England, Glen Innes Severn Council, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), Prime Super and Heiniger, with the Rotary Club of Glen Innes supplying the catering. Sheep were supplied by John Newsome of Elders Glen Innes.

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