In a move to help reverse the decline in young people entering the wool industry, wool broker Quality Wool has created its own pathway for young team members that is set to benefit their careers and growers across the country.
The dedicated program has had an immediate impact, with the company employing six young staff in the last five months who will soon be posted in various areas around Australia and assist senior staff with support to growers.
Despite the tough seasonal conditions in eastern Australia that has slashed wool production, Quality Wool decided to invest in the youth program to provide an educational commitment and help improve the industry’s future.
“We are committing to young people with a workshop program that educates them on-the-job, whilst they are employed,’’ managing director Mark Dyson said.
He said the lack of young people entering certain industries was magnified in agriculture and, due to various reasons including limited courses on offer, there had been a deficiency in employing young people, particularly technical personnel, in the wool sector over the past 20 years.
“With the previous historically low wool prices and declining sheep and wool numbers, there was not much of a bright horizon for those wanting to enter the industry.’’
“However, now with more buoyant times, the good work by AWI into technologies and innovation through to overseas customers and our dedicated workshop program in the industry, we are receiving enquiries every week.’’
The six young team members recently employed are aged from 21 to 34 and come from a range of agricultural backgrounds including shearing and farmhand work, while two also are professional wool classers.
“They now want to turn their hand to the technical side of the industry, which will benefit growers as they continue to work with senior technical staff at Quality Wool,’’ Mr Dyson said.
He said the workshop program provided an excellent path for young people entering the wool industry and there were plans to continue it across the Quality group in the future.
James Kellett, originally from Adelaide, has just joined Quality Wool after four years of farm hand and shearing work on Eyre Peninsula, including time at Wirrulla.
He said for someone who was not familiar with the industry, the program provided a wider perspective on the whole process in simple terms.
Mr Kellett said it had been a great journey so far and he particularly liked the visit to the Geelong wool store and Melbourne auction rooms, including meeting with wool buyers.