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Beyond the Bale : Jun 07 - Jul 07
By Fiona Conroy Anew, national, skilled wool-handler training program will give wool handlers across the country the chance to improve their techniques and hone their skills while working. The initiative is a key component of AWI's new three-year national shearer and wool-handler training program, set to start on 1 July 2007. Joe Sullivan, AWI's program manager for wool harvesting, says that more than 1800 shearers received training funded by AWI, either in the workplace or while attending structured, improver workshops, in 2006-07. "When the current program began in 2004, AWI had similar aspirations for wool-handler training, but the uptake by wool handlers was slow and problematic," Mr Sullivan says. "As a result, we've sat down with key people who have a practical approach to wool-handler training at the National Consistency Workshops for trainers across Australia, and have come up with a fresh approach." The new training covers the four pillars of wool handling, developed by the AWI national mentoring team with input from the majority of wool-handler trainers across Australia. The pillars focus on timing, technique, talking and teamwork, and are delivered in the shearing shed or in structured workshops. On-the-job training appeals to people who are not interested in, or able to attend, the more traditional types of training. The Western Institute of TAFE in Dubbo recently ran a pilot on the wool-handler coaching program, with Wool handlers sharpen their skills Timing, technique, talking and teamwork are the four pillars of AWI's new national on-the-job wool-handler training program 11 IN THE SHED BEYOND THE BALE Hands-on approach Eileen Philipson's father was determined to keep her out of shearing sheds and insisted she go to university. Luckily for woolgrowers, shearing contractors and wool handlers, he failed. At 35, Eileen has spent 21 years working in the wool industry as a professional wool handler, representing Australia as a wool handler, travelling overseas for work and more recently sharing her skills with wool handlers across NSW as part of AWI's national wool handling mentoring team. Angela Wakely is another member of the mentoring team and, along with Eileen, has been working as a wool-handling coach with the Western Institute of TAFE, providing on-the- job skills training to 100 wool handlers taking part in a pilot program soon to be offered nationally. "Wool handling is an area where you can make or break a wool clip, so it's essential to have good skills in the shearing shed," Angela says. "The role of wool handlers, along with the classer and other shed staff, is to get the best financial return possible for the grower. "It's important that wool handlers realise their role, understand why they do what they do, have a good temperament and work as part of a team. Wool-handling trainer Eileen Philipson, of Yeoval, works in the shed on 'Wattle Park', the McLaren family's Temora property. PHOTOS: KELLIE PENFOLD the support of the NSW Stud Merino Breeders' Association, the Australian Shearing Contractors Association and AWI. The pilot involved skilled wool- handler trainers providing on-the-job coaching to 100 wool handlers working in sheds across NSW. Initial feedback from the pilot was very positive and the in-shed coaching program will be rolled out nationally in 2007-08. AWI aims to deliver training to 1900 shearers and 1400 wool handlers each year over the next three years. ú More information: AWI Helpline 1800 070 099, www.wool.com.au "There's never been much formal training for wool handlers, which is why the in-shed coaching offered through the pilot program has been so popular." The pilot, sponsored by the NSW Stud Merino Breeders' Association and AWI, involved coaching 100 wool handlers as they worked in shearing sheds across NSW. The only eligibility requirement for the coaching was working as a wool handler: participants could have years of experience, or be on their first day in the shed. "Once a coach arrives in the shed they talk to the wool handlers about their experience and watch the workflow before concentrating on specific skills, such as board work, picking up and throwing fleeces, skirting, workflow or shed set-up," Eileen says. "The feedback from everyone has been overwhelmingly supportive. Farmers are impressed, contractors think it's great and young people are amazed. "In most cases, young wool handlers starting out in sheds get told 10 things they need to do, but not told why they need to be done. Once you explain the processes involved once wool leaves the shed, they have a greater understanding of their role." -- FIONA CONROY AWI aims to deliver training to 1900 shearers and 1400 wool handlers each year over the next three years.
Jun 07 - Jul 07 Supplement
Apr 07 - May 07