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TAFE NSW graduate wins gold at New England Training Awards

TAFE NSW Armidale

TAFE NSW graduate wins gold at New England Training Awards

Emma Pearson at the 2022 New England Training Awards

New England local Emma Pearson has struck gold, taking home the coveted Vocational Student of the Year award at this year’s regional New England Training Awards. Emma grew up on her family’s sheep and cattle property which sparked a passion for agriculture before gaining a Certificate IV in Wool Classing.

With the Australian Wool industry set to see a further skills shortage in the next 5 years, Emma’s win is great to see in an industry where women make up only 3% of the workforce.[1]

“I was very honored just to be nominated for the award and to be able to win was amazing.

“Agriculture has come a long way with more women entering the industry. It is such a rewarding industry with so many great people and opportunities. If you have a passion for the industry don’t be afraid to chase it. And explore all the branches of the industry. There are so many different job opportunities people are unaware of,” Emma said.

Not only did TAFE NSW Armidale teach Emma the stages of wool production from sheep to mill process, but it also gave her the opportunity to learn and practice skills in other wool growing and production stages.

The Certificate IV in Wool Classing gave Emma a broader knowledge of why wool is presented in different ways and insight into staffing rates and roles.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Australia is one of the largest wool producers in the world. There is a shortage of skilled wool classers, despite the drought and lower sheep numbers.[2] Since 2017 the industry has seen a decline of 29%.[3]

While studying for her HSC, Emma completed a Certificate II and III in Agriculture at TAFE NSW Armidale and the skill development didn’t end with the practical elements making her job-ready.

Head Teacher for TAFE NSW Armidale, Pauline Smith said, “We are extremely proud of Emma. She is one of the most committed, hard-working students I know, completing her wool classing course in one year while working on her family property and for a shearing contractor in Armidale.”

“Through TAFE NSW, my communication skills have really developed. Being able to communicate with people of different ages, backgrounds, and skill levels within the course is something I feel has improved substantially,” said Emma.

The NSW Training Awards are conducted annually by Training Services NSW within the NSW Department of Education to recognise outstanding achievements in the vocational education and training sector.

The Awards honour and reward the achievements of students, Trainers/Teachers, Registered Training Organisations, and large and Medium Employers.

Emma will take part in state interviews in July with the hopes of becoming a state finalist for NSW.

To find out more about studying a career pathways course at TAFE NSW, phone 13 16 01 or visit

Media contact: Callum Darby-Linfitt, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, 02 7920 5000