Wool industry gets behind students

Students take a wool class run by the Taratahi Institute of Agriculture. Photo: Supplied
Students take a wool class run by the Taratahi Institute of Agriculture. Photo: Supplied
Wool industry professionals and members of the Wool Industry Education Group (WIEG) will be working with and supporting training organisations to improve wool industry training qualifications during the next few months.

New Zealand Wool Classers Association board member and WIEG facilitator Allan Frazer said the certificate in wool technology, level four, was for people working in the wool value chain sector, which is one of the qualifications being reviewed.

He said following the closure of training organisation Tectra in 2015, there was a period of about eighteen months when no-one delivered the qualification.

''However, the industry pulled together shortly after Tectra's cessation to review options for education and career progression within the industry,'' he said.

WIEG and other industry representatives initially negotiated with Lincoln University to take over delivery of the two-year certificate course through its Telford campus, at Balclutha.

Later, Lincoln University sold Telford to the Taratahi Institute of Agriculture and the group started negotiations with it.

He said Taratahi/Telford had enrolled its first clutch of 33 students for the two-year programme at Telford at the beginning of this year, and by December, 29 of those had completed the first year.

All 29 would continue for the second year while another 25 new students had registered their interest for the next year's intake without any course promotion undertaken by the institution.

''It is a really excellent performance,'' he said.

''Applications for the course will remain open through until early next year.''

There was a big demand for the wool industry qualification and both the WIEG and the industry would work with Taratahi/Telford to further enhance the certificate content to ensure it met the changing needs and priorities of the industry into the future.

''It would also utilise relevant industry video material and newly available distance learning technology as additional tools.''

Mr Frazer said that they now needed to ensure the qualification was broad enough to deliver a training programme the wool industry needed.

''The industry would have input to ensure it did so.''

He said the review would ''take into account existing content'' and further develop students' understanding of the wool value chain, wool classing, wool handling and harvesting but was likely to vary the percentage and mix of elements.

While it would continue as a distance learning programme undertaken on a part-time basis, periods of block course learning would remain as they were important.

''The basic principles have not changed but the requirements of our industry customers have.

''It [the new version] is going to get off the ground in 2020.''

He said that the certificate was a requirement for becoming a wool classer but many of the people enrolled in this year's programme worked in areas other than in the woolshed, including wool scouring, wool slipe production, wool broking and wool testing.

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