Sheer en­thu­si­asm on dis­play at col­lege

Countryman - - WOOL - Bob Gar­nant

The cur­rent Aus­tralian wool boom has at­tracted stu­dents across the State to pick up the hand shears and have a go with prospects of a wool­shed ca­reer.

WA Col­lege of Agri­cul­ture Den­mark stu­dents reg­u­larly un­der­took shearer and wool­han­dler train­ing through an Aus­tralian Wool In­no­va­tion-spon­sored pro­gram.

Year 11 stu­dent Deahna Keam said she was on her eighth Den­mark woolly sheep when

Coun­try­man vis­ited last week. “Shear­ing is very phys­i­cal but en­joy­able work,” she said, try­ing to catch her breath.

Ms Keam shared the work­load with her fel­low stu­dents in­clud­ing Cait­lyn Wheat­ley, who had her hands full of wool­shed fleece, which was tossed onto the ta­ble for skirt­ing.

Mean­while, stu­dent Jayne Thomp­son was un­der the shear­ing guid­ance of TAFE wool class­ing lec­turer Rob Carter.

“I de­liver mostly the wool­han­dling school units, which re­in­force and ex­tend upon the skills and knowl­edge al­ready gained from the tech­ni­cal of­fi­cers and AWI’s in-shed coach­ing staff at Den­mark,” Mr Carter said.

“Though skill train­ing is the main fo­cus in­clud­ing safety, an­i­mal wel­fare, qual­ity as­sur­ance, board du­ties, press­ing and pen­ning, my role is to also cover the the­o­ret­i­cal com­po­nents, so that the stu­dents know why they need to do what they are do­ing when pre­par­ing the wool.”

Mr Carter said stu­dents be­gan the the­o­ret­i­cal com­po­nents in June and at­tended a one-week block ses­sion for five days, which was re­peated in Novem­ber.

“Dur­ing this time, we com­plete the re­quired as­so­ci­ated book work and ap­praise wool sam­ples and types that may not be avail­able dur­ing shear­ing,” he said.

“The skills and knowl­edge gained through the shear­ing and wool-han­dling pro­gram also com­ple­ment other pro­grams de­liv­ered at the col­lege, in­clud­ing Cer­tifi­cate III in Agri­cul­ture.”

AWI’s Shearer and Wool Han­dler Train­ing Pro­gram aims to at­tract and train new work­ers for the Aus­tralian wool-har­vest­ing in­dus­try.

“The pro­gram was de­signed to build ca­pac­ity of the ex­ist­ing staff through im­proved work prac­tices (shear­ing speed and qual­ity), longevity in the work­force and re­duced in­jury level,” a AWI spokesman said.

“This all bodes well for im­proved re­turns to Aus­tralian wool­grow­ers through im­proved wool prepa­ra­tion, wool-har­vest­ing skills and con­tam­i­na­tion aware­ness, and pro­motes shear­ing and wool han­dling as an at­trac­tive pro­fes­sion.”

Pic­ture: Bob Gar­nant

WA Col­lege of Agri­cul­ture Den­mark stu­dent Deahna Keam takes up the hand shears.

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