Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says $1.86m from the Provincial Growth Fund will be invested over two years to establish a pilot for the Shearing Training Model programme.
It will use micro-credentialing, earn-as-you-learn training to upskill 150 new and 120 existing shearers.
It will target school leavers, unemployed and underemployed people, career changers and those already in the industry who want to learn new skills.
The programme will initially include two pilot schemes in Tairawhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Otago and Southland, where it will also establish centres of excellence for expert training in shearing and wool handling.
“The industry has identified a need for more hands-on training to go with the paper-based qualifications currently used,” Jones says.
“This project is the first step towards meeting that need.”
The pilot is an initiative of the Shearing Contractors Association.
Executive officer Phil Holden said training tends to be piecemeal rather than structured and is driven by individual contractors.
The Government funding will allow the association to establish a charitable trust to look after the governance and management of the pilot.
The practical details around what the training will involve and who will provide it will be determined by the trust.
The aim is to get a programme running then integrate it into the new vocational training framework being implemented following Government changes to the system that became law earlier this year.
“We don’t want to be a training entity ourselves,” Holden says.
The aim is to provide a structured training environment that will deliver skilled people capable of working in a woolshed.
The investment is timely because a skills shortage means the industry has long relied on workers coming in from overseas, which is now not possible because of closed borders.
The association is working with government agencies to find a solution before the shearing season begins but the investment in training will hopefully address the skill shortage long-term., he said.
“We’re excited. It’s a big day for shearing.”
Primary ITO acting chief executive Andrea Leslie is pleased to see Government investment in training for the wool harvesting industry.
“We are 100% supportive of wool harvesting training.
“Recognising that there was a lack of formal training in shearing and wool handling available, last year we launched three micro-credentials as introductions to the industry.
“While these are a start the industry needs more comprehensive training.
“Job openings are forecast to grow in the coming years so training will be critical as NZ faces competition from overseas for our shearers and wool handlers.” he said.