The way TAFE NSW teacher Zac Shearer can leap around in the tree tops could put chimps in an Attenborough documentary to shame.
The former nationally-competitive tree climber has a swag of medals hanging from his harness, having won the Victorian Open Grade Tree Climbing Championship, was ranked fifth in Belgium and in the top 10 in the Australian Competitive Tree Climbing Championships.
Having proven his skills in competition, Mr Shearer is now sharing his experience with Certificate III in Arboriculture students as an arborist teacher at TAFE NSW Yallah.
He started teaching last year and his advanced standing in the industry is becoming a drawcard for budding arborists from across the country.
The timing is good for his students who are learning from one of the industry’s best and becoming qualified in a sector experiencing a growing demand for employees.
Garden services are forecast to grow over the next five years due to an ageing population, growth in housing and a trend in businesses outsourcing non-core services. [i]
TAFE NSW Certificate III in Arboriculture students gain the skills to work in a broad range of roles in the horticulture and garden services sectors.
“My students learn plant identification, assessment of tree health, learn how to climb safely using aerial rigging, use specialist machinery and safe chemical use,” Mr Shearer said.
“It’s an enjoyable career, it pays well and, when qualified, graduates will have skills that can be used all over the world. I have ten years climbing experience working in Australia, Belgium, Germany and London.
“In my peak, when I was subcontracting, I was often given the most difficult trees to work on. At one point I was spending about 30 hours a week in a harness.”
As well as completing the theory, students are required to undertake 400 hours of practical hands-on training gain their qualification. This includes TAFE NSW Yallah Arboriculture students helping schools in the Illawarra with tree-hazard management.
TAFE NSW Horticulture Head Teacher Ben Garnero said local public schools often comment on the professionalism of the students and teachers when working on-site.
TAFE NSW Yallah is a centre of excellence for horticultural, agriculture, animal studies, permaculture, conservation and land management. For more information visit www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.
Media contact: Adam Wright, TAFE NSW Media Officer, 4421 9893, mobile 0466 375 552.