TWO students from the WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin, recently took part in a small-scale pilot program to further their knowledge and understanding of the shearing and wool industry.
After learning about the opportunity in their Animal Production Systems course, Zarah Squiers, Quairading and Jasmin Hanlon, Gidgegannup, took part in the program during their school holidays.
Teacher Alysia Kepert said the students had received a good grounding in their term one studies for the program.
"The college shearing is conducted over most of term one, so lessons were aligned to take advantage of the rich theoretical and practical learning opportunities offered by shearing and wool production," Ms Kepert said.
"This included a series of online presentations from industry representatives that enabled students to get the latest industry information, as well as recognise there are a range of careers associated with the course they are undertaking."
Shearing contractor business, Crackers Contracting owner Sarah Buscumb was invited to be part of the online series delivered to year 11 students and said it was an opportunity for her business to build another stream of workers.
"The ag college students were an ideal fit for us, as they were motivated and keen to learn," Ms Buscumb said.
"I understand that some of the students don't have access to a farm to get any experience, so this was about connecting willing young people with our need for a sustainable workforce.
"We would definitely be interested in a continuation of the program to align with school and university breaks when students are available and will be discussing that further within our network."
Ms Kepert said a direct connection to industry was vital in agricultural education programs.
"Sarah shared insights about her family business, talked about industry challenges, particularly around workforce, and offered to host students wanting to apply their college learning in a fast-paced commercial shearing shed." Ms Kepert said.
"From her home she was able to connect to students at the college and show them the location of her business, the accommodation provided and the rates of pay for shed hands, so they knew what to expect if they wanted to take up the offer."
Over the school holidays the girls travelled to and from work with the team, supporting a five-stand shed.
Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) trainer Kaye Bowden also provided the students with extra guidance.
Ms Hanlon recommended the experience to anyone looking to gain or enhance their shed skills.
"You need to come in with an open mind and be prepared to work hard," Ms Hanlon said.
"It has been a very rewarding experience."
Ms Squiers said she had learnt a lot and recommended the program to other young people.
"It doesn't matter if you don't get everything first go, as everyone has been really supportive and accepting that you are learning," Ms Squiers said.
Local wool classer, Paula Coghlan was impressed with the 'can-do' attitude of the students.
"They were very helpful, and it is encouraging to see some young people with the right attitude coming in during their holidays to experience what is on offer anytime they are looking for work," Ms Coghlan said.
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