The initiative to recruit new cadets is focused on succession planning for an integral sector of the wool industry and stems from the lack of formal industry training.
Cavalier Woolscourers is a world leader in woolscouring innovation and technology. It is the world’s largest woolscouring business by volume, operating two large industrial wool processing sites, one at Napier and one in Timaru.
Both sites are geared to wash all types of wool from 10 micron superfine Merino through to 40 micron crossbred wool. They also wash specialty fibres including alpaca and mohair.
One of the key issues facing the business is succession planning.
Formal wool industry training was now almost non-existent at undergraduate level in NZ, the United Kingdom and Australia, general manager of Timaru-based Canterbury Woolscourers Tony Cunningham told The New Zealand Farmers Weekly.
“This is a significant issue facing our industry. The lack of formal industry training is a major problem now for businesses like ours. The wool industry has an ageing skill base, which is not being replenished with new blood starting out and making a career in wool,” Cunningham said.
The new initiative is a cadetship scheme, structured like a traditional apprenticeship, where good quality recruits are selected and their education provided for in the wool industry.
The plan is to roll the initiative out to coincide with the end of the school and Polytechnic academic year, for commencement in January 2013.
Unit standards and study modules would include wool production, shearing and shed preparation, wool classification, slipe wool technology, wool testing and certification, wool brokering and merchanting, supply chains, wool marketing, production and business management and woolscouring technology.
The comprehensive study would be offered as part of a hands-on programme aimed at immersing candidates into the day to day operations of both the scouring sites in Napier and Timaru. “We are currently working with the Plastics and Materials Processing Industry Training Organisation (PaMPITO) about how we can make this programme NZQA compatible.”
Potential candidates would ideally have completed secondary school with pass marks in NCEA or be graduates from agricultural based polytechnic level courses.
“The goal is to develop in depth industry knowledge with a group of well prepared middle to senior managers over a five-year plan,” Cunningham said.
Cavalier Woolscourers is also keen to employ a graduate with a Bachelor or Masters in chemical engineering who may wish to complete a Doctorate.
“For the last 10 years we have developed a continuous improvement programme in house as there is no longer anywhere to turn to for new and innovative woolscouring technology developments,” Cavalier Woolscourers Ltd chief executive, Nigel Hales, said.
“We are leaders in our field and intend to stay that way by continually being innovative. Having a graduate working for us is an exciting prospect and will allow us to explore areas of the business that will hopefully keep the business abreast of our international competitors.
“We have taken on this responsibility ourselves as within our own business, and in many areas of the wool industry, there is a serious shortage of expertise coming into the wool sector. The fact that there has been little formal training and an ageing population of senior staff within the wool industry should ensure that the right new candidates would have good career opportunities well into the future,” Hales said.
Candidates would need to be prepared to be bonded to the business for the duration of the scheme, as significant investment would be required to fund the cadetships. Those interested in applying for these cadetships could send a brief note about themselves to firstname.lastname@example.org