Glen Innes wool handling schools have received a $60,000 State Government grant.
The recent COVID-19 restrictions on travel have caused shortages of shearers in parts of rural NSW. Regional Development Australia (RDA) is working to 'muster' the next generation of shed workers.
On Monday, August 10 Northern Tablelands MP and Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall announced the funding and said if ever there was a time to bleat about the need to train new shearers, it was now.
"Through its Wool Works Shearing School at the Glen Innes Agriculture Research Station, RDA Northern Inland is showing local high-school students the exciting and rewarding career opportunities which exist on the floor of a wool shed," Mr Marshall said.
In recent years there has been a decline in people entering the industry due to a fall in sheep numbers and the physical nature of shed work.
Through its wool handling schools RDA Northern Inland is getting locals back in the shed. Over the next 12 months the grant will be put towards conducting four, three-day courses for secondary school students.
"The funds will cover the cost of hiring expert trainers, purchasing equipment while subsidising student's transport, accommodation and catering.
When visiting one of the schools last year Mr Marshall was humbled to see some of our area's best shearers encouraging and teaching students these age old skills.
"Our region was built on the sheep's back and hopefully over time we will start to see more teenagers inspired to pick up the shears and pursue a career in the sector."
RDA Northern Inland Executive Director Nathan Axelsson said the grant would give more than 100 young people hands on experience working in a wool shed.
"In 2016, we conducted research which found approximately 200 new shearers need to be trained to enter the industry on an annual basis," Mr Axelsson said. "At a local level, we could see the shortage of skilled shearers in the New England was beginning to impact our premier super fine and ultra-fine wool growers.
"Since 2017, we have run four successful shearing schools with more than 100 participants, working with NSW DPI and a number of other farming groups to expose young people to the various components of wool growing, including wool handling, animal health and husbandry. COVID-19 has impacted our classes in 2020, however we hope to be back at the stand for the first of the four shearing schools in September, with follow up courses in November this year and March/April next year."