Hillston Central School student Natasha Peters tries her hand at shearing at a special event at TAFE NSW Primary Industries Centre recently.
A local woolshed came alive to the sounds of one of the nation’s most iconic professions this week as Riverina students got a hands-on taste of shearing.
Under the tuition of expert TAFE NSW teachers, students from years 9, 10 and 11 from Hillston, Ardlethan and Barellan central schools were shown various aspects of wool harvesting as part of the TAFE NSW Shearing School at TAFE NSW Primary Industries Centre in North Wagga.
The shearing industry is in the midst of a sustained skills shortage, with only about 2000 working shearers nationwide today compared to 10,000 three decades ago.
Student Natasha Peters, who has grown up on a Poll Merino stud in Hillston, said the five-day course had strengthened her resolve to make a career in the agriculture industry or take over the family farm one day.
“It’s been such a great experience and very hands-on,” Natasha said.
“I’ve been around sheds my whole life but I’ve learned so much about the technical side here – how to hold the hand piece, where your feet should be.”
TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Agriculture Rob Harris said the shearing would give local teens the practical skills and experience to pursue a career, or part-time work, in the wool industry.
“The shearing school will give participants the fundamental skills to work n a woolshed and an opportunity to gain immediate work as a roustabout,” Mr Harris said.
“The wool industry is an exciting one to be a part of right now, with many pathways for different roles.
“The timing of this course couldn’t be better either as the demand for shearers and roustabouts expected to be high in the Goulburn region this spring.”
The shearing school is open to students from year 9 to year 12, with preference given to students who are studying an agriculture-related TVET course or were considering a career in agriculture
The week-long course includes five units related to shearing and wool handling, and will give graduates credit towards a Certificate III in Shearing or Certificate IV in Wool Classing.
Run in conjunction with the NSW Department of Education, the shearing school is part of a pilot project that, if successful, will be rolled out through TAFE NSW statewide.
Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, (02) 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428