The wool industry has long remained a key focus for many South Australian producers, with strong price highs continuing to deliver good returns to those who have remained in the industry.
While dry conditions have meant the national flock has remained very low at about 70 million head, this low supply has helped to drive demand for Australian Wool, with subsequent record prices for wool at 2116 cents a kilogram. Currently the AWEX Eastern market indicator sits at 1970c/kg clean.
With the wool industry so buoyant it’s important that we have the best skills to support it, so it’s been wonderful to see the continued strong surge of interest in shearer, wool handling and wool classer training. All training in these areas in SA continues to be fully subscribed, with waiting lists for many of the courses.
Training focuses on skill set and fitness, to ensure young people continue to be retained and exceed in the industry. Retention rates have improved, at about 60 per cent. In the past three to four years there has been a great improvement in retention, there’s also been a greater interest in undertaking intermediate training.
It has also been supported by industry, with AWI in particular helping to fund trainers to work with young shearers and wool handlers to ensure they continue to learn and grow their skill sets. Livestock SA also continues to support young people in the industry through our WoolTAG initiative. As part of this, those who have completed their Certificate II at TAFE SA are gifted a $500 toolbox voucher for shearers and $200 for wool handlers.
Another initiative soon to be rolled out by Livestock SA, in conjunction with AWI and TAFE SA, will be a series of workshops across SA focusing on ‘Maximising your clip value’. The first workshop will be held on October 31 at Olary and November 6 near Naracoorte.
These workshops are aimed at graziers and their employees who prepare or class their own woolclip, large or small, and aims to improve the value of wool clips.
The workshops focus on making sure that producers are aware of what they need to do to ensure they prepare their clip well, and subsequently receive the best possible price for it.
A recent review of wool classer training meant that TAFE SA was unable to deliver training in this area until re-accreditation was completed. This was a concern to Livestock SA and its members, with more than 80 to 100 people on the waiting list to complete this course. I am pleased to confirm it re-commenced this week.
Wool classer training will be delivered through TAFE SA and training has commenced at Naracoorte and is about to start at Cleve and Gilles Plains through the same team which currently manages shearer and wool handling training, overseen by Glenn Haynes. We have approached people on the waiting list and there’s 40 people participating, or about to participate in these three areas. The next round of training will commence from March in regional areas. Training has been customised to suit the region, the Naracoorte course is being run on Tuesday nights, so it doesn’t impact on people during shearing, while the Cleve one is being held for the full week at Sims Farm.
We recognise that at the moment there will be a number of people unable to participate in training as it’s a busy time of year for those involved in shearing. We are working with TAFE SA to ensure this will be taken into consideration, so courses are also available when things slow down.
Finally, I urge wool producers to consider the industry going forward, and ensure they vote in WoolPoll 2018 which closes on November 2. There are a number of options available, so it’s important producers consider this carefully and decide on what they think is the best option for the industry in the long term.
– ANDREW CURTIS, Cheif Executive Officer, Livestock SA