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Emily is shearing her way into farm ownership

Sheep Central, March 7, 2022

Shearer Emily Spencer

NOVICE shearer Emily Spencer has her sights set on farm ownership and she is confident that shearing will get her there.

The 18 year-old is a graduate of industry training funded by Australian Wool Innovation that includes a $2000 tool kit.

As part of AWI’s stepped-up effort to train and retain the next generation of learner shearers and shed hands, the toolkit is being made to as many learners who graduate.

The learner shearer toolkit includes a new hand piece, 10 combs, 40 cutters, a brush, a pendulum and an AWI singlet.

As a third generation shearer, Emily only picked up the handpiece about eight months ago after completing a novice shearing school at ‘Beaufront’ near Ross in Tasmania. She had been working as a shed hand for two years, but always dreamt of shearing.

“These five days of training really will finetune my technique and improve my shearing ability in every possible way, thanks AWI,” Emily said.

“The AWI novice wool harvesting course in July has given me the opportunity to learn and the support and encouragement to be the best you can be.

“I learnt how to shear in the sheds, but didn’t have the correct technique so it was important to be trained correctly, for me to improve my pace and the quality of my work,” Emily said.

“I just shore my first 200 and now setting a goal to reach 300 sheep in a day.”

Shearing the pathway to farm ownership

Emily said there aren’t many other options apart from shearers for young people to generate the stake to enable farm ownership.

“Unless you are brought up with an inheritance, there aren’t many opportunities like this at all, especially with this kind of money.

When asked what are the best things about shearing, she said the money is good and at 18 she is earning as much as her parents.

“What I also like is that you can set your own pace, you can have a real go, you are your own boss and that’s empowering!

“There are so many opportunities in the wool industry, it doesn’t stop in the shearing sheds, I want to travel, save my money, one day buy a farm and run livestock,” she said.

“This is my future!”

Emily Spencer: ‘This my future.’

Emily said she is still classed as a learner, but is now shearing 150-200 crossbred ewes or lambs a day. At 65-70 kilograms and 168cm high, many composite ewes are heavier than her and represent a challenge on the board, but her training gets her through.

“Actually (shearer trainer) Jackie Monks has taught me so much, it’s bloody incredible.

“It’s all technique really, especially with someone my size.”

$2000 toolkit provided to 143 shearers since July last year

AWI chairman Jock Laurie said the toolkit has been provided to 143 learner shearers since 1 July last year.

“That means that there are 143 learners on stands that were not shearing a year ago.

“We need more, we know that, and we are doing our best to attract and retain workers for the industry.”

Mr Laurie said AWI has and will continue to train learner shearers and there has never been a better time than now for learner shearers to take a stand.

“The AWI learner shearer toolkit is a new and important initiative where learner shearers are given a toolkit valued at $2000 to take with them to use and keep as tools for trade.

“This is part of an ongoing commitment to the industry and we have to provide and support all we can to attract and retain staff.”

Mr Laurie said with the number of sheep lifting across Australia, it is very important we as an industry attract new entrants and train them.

“We also must continue to support, mentor and retain staff.

“AWI has numerous novice schools operating across the country for learner shearers and new entrants,” he said.

“These provide the necessary skills and knowledge for a learner shearer an also new entrant wool handlers to be confident to work in these roles amongst a working team.”

Pathway from high school is critical

New South Wales contractor based at Blayney, Andy Duggan, has a large contract run and he employs more than 50 staff that handle more than half a million sheep per year.

As a great supporter of the AWI training, Andy has five learner shearers currently in his teams. All have had AWI novice training and in-shed coaching and been supplied with the AWI learner toolkit.

“As part of this initiative, AWI will deliver ongoing in shed coaching plus provide improver schools for these learners,” Mr Duggan said.

“It is critical that we have the pathway from high school and leaving school to provide the support and training to get the young ones in working teams.

“I think we as an industry and AWI should do more to attract them, we will employ them, we need them.”

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