A new pathway program has been created in order to help reverse the decline of young people penetrating Australia’s wool industry.
Behind the initiative lies Adelaide-based wool broker Quality Wool, with the aim to benefit both career opportunities and growers across the country.
Despite tough seasonal conditions that has slashed wool production, the dedicated program aspires to help improve the industry’s future by investing in youth education.
Quality Wool managing director Mark Dyson said over the past 20 years, Australia has seen a deficiency in young people entering agricultural industries, particularly in the wool sector.
“With the previous historically low wool prices and declining sheep and wool numbers, there was not much of a bright horizon for those wanting to enter the industry,” he said.
“However, now with more buoyant times, the good work by AWI into technologies and innovation through to overseas customers and our dedicated workshop program in the industry, we are receiving enquiries every week.
“We are committing to young people with a workshop program that educates them on-the-job, whilst they are employed.”
Steven Read has been in the wool processing industry since 1984 and is the current CEO of Michell Wool, an Adelaide based wool processing facility with a buying depot located in Keith.
Mr Read is also optimistic about the future of young people entering the industry.
“Over the past 15 years the wool industry shrunk and consolidated but in the last 4-5 years wool production has gone up,” he said.
“The older and more experienced people are starting to retire, so we need to bring new people in and train them up.
“The industry is robust and it’s profitable, bringing in new people comes with new ideas, capabilities and technologies – it’s a very exciting time.”’
Mr Read said the wool industry was also attractive due to high international trading and export demands.
“Almost all of Australian wool is exported in one way or another – the business is fundamentally an international and trading business,” he said.
“About 74% of Australian wool is processed in China. Approximately half stays in China and the other half exported to retailers around the world.
“It’s a complicated and exciting industry that would be very interesting for young people to become part of!”