Craig French says there are smart young shearers putting money away and buying houses and investing and buying property.

“There is big demand for agricultural workers on farms and a lot more opportunity for contract work – mustering, lamb marking etc. That means you’ve got a business and can build your own empire. There are smart young shearers putting money away and buying houses and investing and buying property, and post COVID there will not only be work all over Australia but work all over the world. And not all jobs are on farm or in the bush. AWI’s head office overlooks Sydney Harbour so you can live in a capital city and still be involved with the fibre.” Craig French AWI national manager of wool harvesting training and development.

Shearers and Young Farming Champions Tom Squires and Matt Cumming

In this third instalment of our Crafting Careers in Agriculture series we speak with Craig French, AWI’s national manager of wool harvesting training and development, who believes contracting and the renewal of wool processing in Australia offer opportunities for future careers in agriculture.

Craig French is a prime example of where a career in wool can take you. Born and bred in the northern suburbs of Sydney he had a longing for life on the land. Following his heart he travelled to Longreach Pastoral College after school to complete a wool classing qualification.

“I didn’t have a property to go back to so I started my wool career in the wool store in Sydney, then went jackarooing for three years, and then moved to Dubbo as a wool representative. I bought a farm here 18 years ago.”

Now running his own property while working remotely for AWI Craig believes wool harvesting is the perfect entry to a career in wool.

“I think we need to be targeting the Years 8 and 9 kids and giving them an introduction to wool harvesting – shearing, wool handling, wool classing, wool buyers and brokers. There are so many opportunities in the wool sector. I think COVID has made us look at what we do and how we do it and I believe Australia will have more early and middle stage processing [of wool] in the future and that will bring more jobs for people. But the initial attraction is shearing and wool handling.”

Formal qualifications are not required to become a shearer, which opens the job to anyone with a strong work ethic.

Craig French (far right) says a career in wool harvesting can take you everywhere

“You may not need qualifications [except for a wool classer, which requires a Certificate 4] but you need skills and AWI encourages these through events such as the annual National Merino Challenge and the School Wether Challenge, which engages with up to 50 schools at a time. One change we’ve seen is we have a lot more girls becoming shearers.”

With good money to be made Craig sees many opportunities for young people to craft their own career.

“There is big demand for agricultural workers on farms and a lot more opportunity for contract work – mustering, lamb marking etc. That means you’ve got a business and can build your own empire. There are smart young shearers putting money away and buying houses and investing and buying property, and post COVID there will not only be work all over Australia but work all over the world. And not all jobs are on farm or in the bush. AWI’s head office overlooks Sydney Harbour so you can live in a capital city and still be involved with the fibre.”

It comes as no surprise that when Craig is asked to nominate a career in wool he enthuses about shearing.

“A decent shearer shearing 150 sheep per day is earning roughly $2000 on a four-day week. It’s pretty good returns – that’s $100,000 a year. It may take 12-18 months to develop the skills to earn that money, however it’s not a bad apprenticeship.”

But don’t just take Craig’s word for it; here is what our Young Farming Champion Tom Squires has to say about his career in wool:

“Learning the craft of shearing at a young age has allowed me to complete a university degree, travel to seven countries around the world, buy my own sheep and to purchase a house. You’ll meet some of the best people in the sheds and have a great time along the way. Regardless of how long you spend in the industry, it’s a time in your life you will never forget.”

#CraftingCareers #CareersinWool #YouthinAg

 

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