Fees for training agreed

Agreement on funding the training of wool harvesters should ensure a new crop of champion...
Agreement on funding the training of wool harvesters should ensure a new crop of champion shearers such as Nathan Stratford, pictured winning last year's open title at New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships, in Alexandra. Photo by Rosie Manins.
A new funding regime for the training of shearers and woolhandlers has been agreed to which could cost growers as little as one cent a sheep.

Woolhandlers and shearing contractors are hailing the agreement, which will see Tectra set new training course fees to take account of the absence of wool levy funding, which will also ensure the industry can continue to leverage some taxpayer funding for training.

New Zealand Shearing Contractors' Association president Barry Pullin said how each contractor implemented the new regime was up to them, but it reflected the fact other industries expected their staff to contribute towards training costs.

Those costs would be as little as 1c a sheep, substantially less than the 21c a sheep wool growers paid as part of their wool levy to Meat and Wool New Zealand.

"What's wrong with that? If we can do it for 1c a head when previously under the name of wool harvesting it cost 21c a sheep, it's got to be better," Mr Pullin said.

Wool-classing fees were likely to increase from $70-$120 a course to $280, and a four-day shearing course to $380 plus other in-shed costs, to reflect the ending of the wool levy.

Mr Pullin said how that cost was recouped, if at all, depended on the individuals and their employer.

But ultimately, the individual who undertook the training, their employer, their client (the wool grower) and the New Zealand economy, all benefited, he said.

New Zealand Wool Classers' Association chairman Martin Paterson said it was vital the issue of future training of wool harvesters was addressed, especially given the growth of direct supply contracts between growers and users which required that wool be delivered to set specifications.

He was delighted the issue of training wool harvesters appeared to have been resolved, but he urged farmers to encourage their contractors to continue staff training despite looming increases in the price of training.

Mr Paterson said that price rise replaced the wool levy contribution, but just as importantly, the cost was now transparent to the trainee, their employer and farmers.

Mr Paterson said there was a bigger issue at stake.

"The value of wool to the farmer depends upon getting the product to market in the best condition possible.

"What happens in the woolshed has a big influence on product quality and consistency and its value to the buyer."

It was vital to the future of the fine and crossbred wool sectors that training continued.

"We need to invest in our training to give us any chance at all in achieving an up-side to our wool industry."


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