New training courses launched for shearing industry

New training courses for the wool handling industry have been launched, as the sector looks to address a growing need for workers.

The "micro-credentials" in wool harvesting courses have been unveiled at the Primary Industries Summit in Wellington by Primary ITO chief executive Linda Sissons.

She said the three micro-credentials, Introduction to the Woolshed, Learner Wool Handler, and Learner Shearer, would help solve a critical need to train shearers and wool handlers.

"The courses are bite-sized pieces of learning, aiming to recognise or teach specific skills for the workplace, on the job, in a short time," she said.

"What makes the issue so pressing, and why the wool industry is one of the first to have micro-credentials being released, is that right now there are no recognised industry qualifications available in New Zealand for shearers and wool handlers," said Dr Sisssons.

She said with job openings forecast to grow substantially in wool harvesting in the coming years, training would be critical as New Zealand faces competition from overseas for our shearers and wool handlers.

Dr Sissons said the micro-credentials would be a game-changer for the primary industries.

"They are short, sharp pieces of learning but officially recognised and overseen by New Zealand's education system."

At the top end of the spectrum, Primary ITO's new micro-credential in biosecurity is at Level 5 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework and pitched at agribusiness managers and owners. 

The wool courses are at Level 2, and take approximately four weeks of total learning, practising, and assessment.  

"They mean businesses can bring on new workers and ensure they develop essential skills for the woolshed before investing in further training."

"It also recognises that shearing gangs move around a lot - workers can learn wherever they are and fit it in whenever best suits the job."

Primary ITO is this year developing a full suite of wool harvesting programmes, in addition to the micro-credentials, which are expected to be launched in 2020.