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“Shot in the arm” for wool training

Young people who want to make a career in the wool industry will be helped by the Government’s Modern Apprenticeships scheme.

At the launch of the scheme today, Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey said WoolPro had been selected by Skill New Zealand as one of 12 organisations to run pilot apprenticeship schemes.

WoolPro is a major education provider, training up to 1500 students a year in shearing, wool handling and wool classing.

Trevor Gardiner, WoolPro’s Training Development Manager, says the scheme is a real “shot in the arm” for the wool industry, which is on the lookout for young talent.

Modern Apprenticeships are a new educational pathway for 16 – 21 year olds.

They combine the strength of the apprenticeship tradition with the best of modern workplace learning.

Mr Gardiner says WoolPro will help recruit young people and place them in apprenticeships with suitable employers.

As well as their core subject – either shearing or wool handling – WoolPro apprentices will get a personalised training plan. This can include study units in agriculture, first–aid, communication, computers, leadership or running a small business.

“We will mentor them through their training and the completion of national qualifications,” Mr Gardiner says.

“We have a track record for helping young people, including many young Maori, with their training and are delighted to be chosen as one of the groups to pilot the initiative.

“Modern Apprenticeships are an excellent way for employers to tap into the best working talent of a new generation and they are also a very practical route for young people to develop their skills.”

The apprenticeships are designed to get young, keen, capable and committed people into the wool industry, and get them on-track to a clearly-defined career pathway, says WoolPro business development manager for shearer training, Peter Taylor.

“There is a real need for a system such as this in the sheep industry, and its arrival couldn’t have been more timely,” he says.

“The workforce is getting older, some are leaving the industry, while others are moving to Australia.”

Mr Taylor says the wool harvesting industry is an attractive career option for young people, but it has become increasingly difficult for them to gain the hands-on experience they need to become fast and efficient.

“Shearing contractors know the industry needs a constant flow of new entrants, but their immediate need is for experienced and competent workers on the board – today.”

He says the apprenticeship scheme can provide the bridge between these two conflicting requirements.

Under the scheme, apprentices will gain a wide variety of skills and have the security of ongoing employment – three years’ worth – while employers will be ensuring that the industry has a first class workforce for the future.

If you think a wool industry apprenticeship sounds like you, or you are in a position to employ apprentices, contact WoolPro.

North Island: Contact Peter Taylor 06-356 8611, 025-424 465, or email peter.taylor@woolpro.co.nz
South Island: Contact Colin King 03-348 4028, 025-322 027 or email colin.king@woolpro.co.nz

[ends]

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