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Strong retention of young ‘professional’ shearers turns tide on workforce shortages for woolgrowers



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Shearing sheds are coming to life in elements of South Australia and Victoria after a workforce disaster that is triggered a collective headache for the business lately.

“It is a utterly completely different situation this yr,” mentioned Glenn Haynes, a Naracoorte-based shearing contractor and Shearing Contractors Affiliation of Australia (SCAA) government officer.

“Issues are wanting extraordinarily constructive. There’s shearers coming throughout from New South Wales, Western Australia and our New Zealanders are again in good numbers.

“There’s lots of good younger individuals coming into the business this yr … though we’re nonetheless struggling for wool handlers and shed employees.

“Shearer numbers are wanting the perfect they’ve in years.”

There are about 2,000 working shearers in Australia right this moment in comparison with 10,000 30 years in the past.

However with gross weekly earnings within the realm of $1,500 for brand spanking new recruits with six months of expertise, the business is clawing the numbers again.

Retention charges enhance

The pandemic supplied a “silver lining” for the business, Mr Haynes mentioned.

“It meant that lots of contractors had no alternative however to placed on lots of younger shearers because of the workforce shortages,” he mentioned.

“However that meant that these younger shearers gained lots of useful expertise and expertise in a shorter period of time.”

Previously 18 months, 209 new shearers entered the business in South Australia and Victoria alone, Mr Haynes mentioned.

“You return to 2018 and you would be fortunate to get 25 per state per yr,” he mentioned.

“Now these younger individuals are shearing properly over 150 or 160 a day, which may be very constructive for native woolgrowers – and it means they’re taking residence a very good pay cheque too.”

Man shearing a sheep
Naracoorte shearing contractor and coach Glenn Haynes says younger shearers are coming into the business in droves.(ABC South East SA: Liz Rymill)

Mr Haynes mentioned regardless of the logistical challenges of border restrictions and office rules – which noticed the standard contingent of about 500 New Zealander shearers unable to function for the previous couple of seasons – the pandemic meant newcomers obtained extra expertise and coaching.

“That is the most important factor we discovered with COVID was younger shearers getting the chance to leap on a stand and keep there,” he mentioned.

“Previously, they have been shifted round a good bit – on and off the stands, rouseabouting or sidelined by extra skilled shearers.”

The demand for employees helped to retain younger shearers, Mr Haynes mentioned.

“[Previously] they tended to take off and be part of one other business, however the final couple of years has seen them get the chance to remain on stands, and so they then begin shearing 100 or extra sheep a day in a short time,” he mentioned.

“Once they’re at that degree (often about three weeks after their coaching) they’re round $400 a day of their pocket. They’re making good cash right away.”

Mr Haynes mentioned wool handlers have been additionally making “so much higher cash” than just a few years in the past with the typical take-home pay of about $320 a day.

Coaching deal a win Tasman companions

Constructing on the present business outlook, Australian Wool Innovation, together with Australia’s largest shearing and wool dealing with coaching organisation SCAA Shearer Wool Handler Coaching Inc (SCAA SWTI), have signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with New Zealand’s shearing coaching physique Elite Wool Business Coaching NZ.