Focusing on ways to win workers to wool

New Tasmanian program to look at wool workforce needs

Coronavirus
WORKFORCE DEMAND: NSW shearers Ben Reinke and Aryn Bazeley at Fingal in September. Picture: Phillip Biggs

WORKFORCE DEMAND: NSW shearers Ben Reinke and Aryn Bazeley at Fingal in September. Picture: Phillip Biggs

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Shearers and wool classers hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Tasmania's shearer shortage will be put under the microscope as part of a new program run by Primary Employers Tasmania.

PET has secured funding from Skills Tasmania to run a program to examine the present and future workforce needs of wool.

Shearers and wool classers have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the inability to move around the country.

Border restrictions and quarantine measures have left some shearers stranded in a state, other than the one where they normally live.

Others have put their shearing work on hold, as they can't afford to lose money or pay for hotel quarantine measures.

The border restrictions are putting financial strain on many shearers, and led to one of the longest and toughest seasons in Tasmania, drawn out by physical distancing requirements.

Shearers and wool classers were not deemed essential workers and were unable to secure exemptions to enter the state.

Primary Employers Tasmania President Felicity Richards said many wool growers had been severely hit by the 2020 market slump, but a recent rebound in prices had restored optimism and confidence.

"We have many Tasmanian wool growers leading the world in terms of their commitment to sustainability, global accreditation, animal welfare and the quality of their fibre," Ms Richards said.

"It is essential that we have sufficient and skilled shearers and shed hands to remove the wool ready for our brokers to market Tasmanian wool to the world."

Primary Employers Tasmania, the longest-established provider of practical and professional workplace relations solutions for Tasmanian farmers, has been delivering wool industry training in Tasmania since 2011.

Ms Richards said it was time for a new approach to better connect with the next generation that will drive innovation, change and efficiencies in the wool industry

However, to address the workforce challenges, a whole-of-industry approach was needed, she said. To address this, a steering committee with representatives from Primary Employers Tasmania, growers, shearing contractors and woolbrokers has been formed to oversee the program.

A part-time project manager will also be recruited. The two-year project is ready to commence. Applications for the steering committee and project officer are expected to be advertised before the end of October.

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The story Focusing on ways to win workers to wool first appeared on The Examiner.

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