Kaiaka Wool Industry Training NZ has awarded the contract for its new $1.8 million pilot training programme to multi-format training provider WOMOLife.
Kaiaka will train up to 270 shearers and wool handlers and create 150 new jobs. At least 70% of new employees will be Māori.
Kaiaka will also establish two wool harvesting (shearing and wool handling) pilot training centres in Gisborne/Hawkes Bay and Otago/Southland.
The new initiative is a part of wider efforts to revitalise the wool industry and make training accessible to a highly mobile, geographically isolated workforce.
Lack of training and COVID-related border closures mean the ratio of shearers to sheep in New Zealand is at a historic low.
Kaiaka board chairperson Dr. Gabrielle Wall says: “High-quality training is urgently needed to bring new people into the wool harvesting industry, as well as supporting those already in the industry to build on their skills.”
She says WOMOLife will offer a mix of face-to-face and video-based learning through its online platform.
“We appreciated WOMOLife’s innovation of blending a traditional hands-on training model with an online platform. We know there’s no substitute for having experienced trainers working with trainees in the wool shed. With this approach, trainees will have the best of both worlds by combining hands-on training with access to online resources 24-7.”
“It was also critical to the board that we developed a training model that is viable and sustainable for the industry, both now and in the future. We believe that WOMOLife’s approach will deliver that.”
New Zealand Shearing Contractors’ Association ceo Phil Holden adds: “This is great news for the industry – a 21st century solution to the challenges that have led to the current shortage of shearers.”
Alister Shennan, managing director of WOMOLife says: “It’s exciting and humbling to be working with Kaiaka to bring in a new generation of participants into the wool harvesting industry.”
The new training programme gets underway in early 2021.