Fox & Lillie Rural Sponsors Wedderburn Shearing School

With the Australian wool industry facing continuing to face a shortage of shearers and woolhandlers, shearing schools such as Wedderburn’s, in north Victoria are crucial in providing entry level training to individuals wishing to pursue a career in the wool trade.

Seven students recently completed the Wedderburn two-week intensive Shearing School which provides a realistic experience of life in the sheds, where students can experience both the physical and mental expectations of a shearer and woolhandler.

The Wedderburn Community House in partnership with Shearer Woolhandler Training Inc have been operating the shearing school for over fifteen years and Fox & Lillie Rural was proud to be a major sponsor this year, contributing $3,000 to offset the costs of running the two-week school. Other sponsors included the local brand of the Victorian Farmers Federation who have had an ongoing sponsorship with the shearing school for a number of years.

As a major wool broker and buyer, Fox & Lillie Rural’s $3,000 sponsorship is part of their ongoing commitment to help combat the shortage of skilled labour in the industry.

Fox & Lillie Rural’s Managing Director Jonathan Lillie said “we’re seeing first-hand, the issues associated with the shortages of wool handlers and shearers in the industry and Fox & Lillie is committed in trying to improve this situation.”

Not only that, but the school had a personal connection for Fox & Lillie Rural’s central Victorian wool marketing representative, Fluff Tonkin, who was once a student at Wedderburn 14 years ago.

Some things haven’t changed since Fluff participated in the school those 14 years ago. Richard Leahy, from Shearer and Woolhandler Training Inc. still remains teaching at the Wedderburn Shearing school, returning each year to train and upskill labour within the wool industry.

One of this year’s students and Wedderburn local, Levi Simms said that the shearing school coincided with regular school holidays and some of the local farmers in the area suggested that he should participate. “I really enjoyed the experience and I’ve already been offered work as a result of the shearing school.”

Fluff encourages people to give the industry a go. “The wool industry is very multi-faceted. Shearing and woolhandling is a traded and valuable skill and there are plenty of opportunities to work locally, interstate and even internationally.”

“Not only that but there’s a real sense of comradery in the sheds and working as part of a team. You might make some lifelong friends along the way.”

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