More than 300 young people successfully completed WOMOlife’s innovative training courses in shearing and wool handling last year, a step towards developing a sustainable career.
WOMOlife – which stands for work wise, move – was set up for the wool-harvesting industry by Agricademy to provide both practical and life skills for trainees to succeed in the first years of employment.
The pilot project, which attracted 311 trainees, 70% of whom were Māori, was funded by the Provincial Growth Fund through Kaiaka and the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association, (NZSCA).
The training targets the “digital” generation and the way they learn. It features online courses including videos for trainees to learn from the best, anytime and anywhere; face to face onfarm training courses; and wellbeing modules – MoveWise, EatWise, and MoneyWise.
Logan, a shearer who took part in one of WOMOlife’s upskilling courses, said he found it really valuable. Not only his technical skills improved, he said.
“It’s really important to be involved in things like movement, your money, and nutrition too. A course like this – it’s fantastic.”
NZSCA president Mark Barrowcliffe said since the demise of the Wool Board and levy, training has struggled nationally but the WOMOlife model is what the industry needs. “We’re offering more than just the shearing or the wool-handling training, it’s the whole picture of your body and your mind. We’re training you to be a rural athlete.”
WOMOlife’s manager and shearing contractor Luke Mullins said with the right training, a career in shearing and wool handling is really rewarding. “We’re working really hard to develop more pathways for the next generation into the industry.”
Trainer Mouse O’Neill fully backs the WOMOlife approach: “The improvement we see in our trainees is outstanding from start to finish.”
Founder and managing director Alister Shennan developed Agricademy in 2018 to provide a training model that was very different to the existing offerings, without having to go into a classroom setting.
After working in a senior role at the Primary ITO, Shennan could see industry was not getting the training it wanted or giving trainees the skills they needed to do well.
“There needed to be a complete rethink of training in agriculture,” he said.
“I am passionate about Agricademy’s model, where youth can upskill quickly and have early successes which equips them with confidence to do the job well.”
With WOMOlife courses set to continue in the wool-harvesting industry, Agricademy is expanding its training model into the dairy sector with Get Milking. This will combine online courses, practical on-farm learning, and health and wellbeing modules. Agricademy’s training model offers a step up or into the agriculture sector, providing trainees with the practical and life skills to succeed in the first stages of employment, and to go on to have the opportunity of a well-paid career.
“Agricademy’s approach offers the rural sector training that attracts and retains workers with the skills they need, at a time where there are many thousands of jobs on offer on New Zealand farms,” Shennan said.
Disclaimer: Dean Williamson, CEO of AgriHQ, is an Agricademy shareholder