Thursday, December 7, 2023

Trainers announced for wool harvesting courses

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A group of respected industry trainers from around the country will run the first upskilling courses for young shearers and wool handlers in a pilot programme.
Woolshearer Luke Mullins joins the team as an assistant trainer.
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The courses, put together by training provider WOMOlife and set to begin at the end of March, include an online series of videos featuring experts in their fields, in-shed training by highly respected industry trainers, and movement coaching to protect and improve the skills of the group.

Head trainer Carmen Smith brings more than 25 years of knowledge and expertise to the programme, and along with her partner Gavin, runs a 340ha sheep and beef farm in Waipukurau. 

A former shepherd, these days Smith, who has plenty of awards under her belt, is a shearer, wool handler and presser, and has worked in sheds all over the world.

Along with Nathan “Stratty” Stratford and Jeremy Goodger, Smith also features in the courses’ learning videos, which were shot by internationally-recognised producer and director Celia Jaspers, whose extensive portfolio includes Country Calendar.

The two-to-three minute videos will complement the in-shed training and will enable those on the courses to check what they are doing on their phones while they are at work.

Another award-winning, world record holder, Justin Bell, has more than 28 years’ expertise in the shearing industry and is joining Smith as a trainer.

He knows what it takes to shear for hours on end, day in and day out, and is keen to pass on his knowledge and expertise to those starting out and younger shearers wanting to upskill.

Bell, whose family farm is at Weber near Dannevirke, has set three world records and currently still holds the two-stand eight-hour strong wool lamb record.

Also joining the team is Gisborne-based Deano Smith, an award-winning speed shearer, who has worked in Australia and around New Zealand, and loves passing on his knowledge and skills to younger shearers.

Trainer Mouse O’Neill has spent a lot of time on big high country stations in Central Otago as both a wool handler and a shearer of more than 30 years.

The trainers are rounded out by Stu Munro, Sarah Higgins, Leonora Smith and Sheree Alabaster.

They will be supported by assistants Luke Mullins, Luke Paulsen and Clara Taingahue, with others still to be announced.

The training programme, which is focused on the Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay and Otago/Southland regions, is a $1.8 million contract awarded to WOMOlife by Kaiaka to develop and implement a pilot model for training during the next 18 months.

During the pilot period, it is intended that 270 people will receive training and 150 new jobs will be created.

WOMOlife managing director Alister Shennan is confident the new training model, that combines in-shed learning with digital platforms so young people can access training online, will engage young workers and those wanting to be upskilled in the first years of employment.

“We keep workers on the job – leaving the classroom behind – to focus on the way youth find information and absorb skills, which is primarily on-the-job training, using correct movement techniques and accessing a series of online videos in bite-sized learnings,” Shennan said.

WOMOlife is the first offshoot of Agricademy, a new entrant in NZ’s agricultural training sector.

Agricademy is a joint venture between Ecadame, a training model, platform and IP company, and publisher, information and data business GlobalHQ. 

Its core purpose is to launch 50,000 successful careers in agriculture by the end of 2025.

It plans to achieve that goal through the creation of sector-specific industry attraction and training programmes.

Disclaimer: Dean Williamson, CEO of AgriHQ, is an Agricademy shareholder

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