06th Oct 2020
THE hum of overhead gear and click of the shears is once again ringing from the Glen Innes Agricultural Research Station, with local High School students participating in the first Wool Works Shearing School since the COVID-19 shutdown.
Northern Tablelands MP and Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall visited the school, being run by Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) last week, after the State Government provided a $60,000 grant for the innovative program. 
“With COVID-19 disrupting so much of their education this year, it’s great to see these students from Glen Innes High School and Inverell’s Macintyre High School back in the shed and learning skills which could provide them with a career for life,” Mr Marshall said.
“Over three days last week, students participated in a number of workshops, learning from wool industry stalwarts the techniques of shearing and wool handling, safety in the wool shed and about animal health, husbandry and biosecurity.  
“Wool Works is a case study for the type of hands-on education which is required if we wish to equip people with the skills needed for the jobs of the future.
“As we have seen, COVID-19 international border closures have sent shockwaves through the wool industry, with New Zealand shearers unable to enter the country to fill a shortage of shed workers during the winter/spring shearing. Now is the time to start training our own people to fill that gap.
“As our State’s Agriculture Minister, I want to thank these young people for their enthusiasm and interest in wanting to be involved in the industry which has made our region so successful.
“Wool growing will play an important role in the recovery of regional and rural NSW in the post COVID-19 economy and I’m glad to see we have young people ready, willing and able to maximise its potential.”
RDANI Executive Director Nathan Axelsson said there had been a huge amount of interest in the Wool Works program leading up to its resumption. 
“If it wasn’t for COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, I think we would have ended up with more students than sheep participating in this school,” Mr Axelsson said.
“As the restrictions ease I think we have a great opportunity to extend the program’s reach, in particular to High Schools at Moree, whose teachers have shown they are keen to get their students access to this high level of practical, hands on experience.
“Our intention is to undertake our final school for 2020 in November, before jumping in again in March/April next year.
The Wool Works Shearing School is possible through collaboration between RDANI, NSW DPI, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), TAFE New England, Glen Innes Severn Council, GLENRAC, Prime Super and Heiniger.

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