With women making up the majority of wool handlers across Australia, there is no better time for female job seekers to consider a rewarding career collecting and classing one of Australia’s largest exports.
TAFE NSW Bathurst graduate, Esther Werner, is proof of the changing perceptions of the wool industry. After studying a Certificate IV in Wool Classing, Esther has made the move to the New England area to work as a superfine wool handler for RP Layton Shearing Contractors.
“I always enjoyed helping my parents in the sheds when I was young and after studying a range of courses and working in hospitality, I decided to try shed work and I loved it,” Ms Werner said.
“I really wanted to learn more about wool and develop more skills in roustabouting with the option of working as a wool classer one day.
“Completing the Certificate IV in Wool Classing at TAFE NSW has helped me in more ways than I thought it would. It has given me hands-on skills to be more confident with my work and really enjoy what I am doing.
“The course was very flexible as I could work part-time and study when it suited me and the teachers at TAFE NSW were really supportive and knew a lot about the wool industry.”
Australia is the world’s largest wool producer, and professional wool classers play a crucial part in ensuring the quality of the $2.6 billion industry.
Owner of RP Layton Shearing Contractors in Bundarra, Paul Layton, said Esther has been a great addition to the team.
“It’s not an uncommon sight to see women working in shearing sheds, I’ve got seven employees and six of them are women.
“They possess a strong work ethic and can do attitude that is needed in the industry.
“Esther is using the skills she has learnt at TAFE NSW everyday in her role, servicing wool sheds in the New England region and I have no doubt she has a bright future ahead of her in the industry.”
Ms Werner added, “It really pays to put the effort in and study what you enjoy, to be whatever you want to be.”
To find out more about wool classing and agriculture courses available at TAFE NSW visit: tafensw.edu.au
This article was first published in Leading Agriculture magazine.