On Course For Shear Action
Shearing Skills’ Courses Maximise Wool Returns and Lead to International Success
British Wool has a global reputation for high-quality, and this standard is built on the national flock and the outstanding skills of our nation’s shearers and wool-handlers.
As an agricultural co-operative representing around 40,000 producers, British Wool is aware of the importance of ensuring skills are maintained and improved across the generations for the future success of wool. Training and knowledge transfer is a priority and as they announce details of their 2018 courses, they are keen to highlight that in recent years, there has been a resurgence in the amount of people keen to learn or improve their shearing, blade shearing and wool handling skills.
The British Wool training scheme is the approved training provision for shearing in the UK and its courses are recognised across the world with courses for shearers and wool handlers of all abilities available. Beginning with a ‘Blue Seal’ award and running up to the highest ‘Gold Seal’ award, these courses offer training for all - from beginners to advance.
Across the UK there are 120 venues, ensuring that no-one needs travel too far. A team of 60 instructors service the courses, delivering them efficiently, and at the right level. Courses are run at local centres – some at colleges and some on farms. For example, some individuals will learn at their local agricultural college – like Newton Rigg in Cumbria, where British Wool provides two instructors for two weeks to carry out the training.
“Our aim here at British Wool is to provide a platform for people to learn and improve their skills and I can honestly say that if you sign on to one of the courses, you will learn from the best, to be the best”, says British Wool’s Head of Shearing, Colin MacGregor.
Recently introduced online bookings accounted for over 33% of all attendances last year – a sign that even traditional skills move with the times. This year, British Wool expects even more – especially as a 10% reduction is applied to the cost of all courses booked online.
In planning for 2018, British Wool have recognised that more people are wanting to improve existing skills, so this year additional Advance courses have been included. These courses follow the same bespoke formula already established. Top flight instructors look at everyone as an individual, as opposed to teaching everyone at the same level. For example, some are 6ft 6 inches tall, and some are 4ft 6 inches tall. Individual skills are honed to suit different aptitudes and levels already achieved – to build on what has already been established in shearing and handling sheep.
The Advance courses are specifically tailored for those who need to fine-tune their existing skills and for those who want to go on to compete and travel around the world. Advance courses improve skill and out-put and make shearers more commercially productive giving them a competitive edge. All those identified as interested in competition will meet instructors who are highly experienced competitors with a high-profile in their respective countries.
But for those who just want to shear their own sheep, it makes their job much easier if they have the right and appropriate skill-set available to them.
Colin MacGregor said: “Whether you are building foundations at beginner level, or you have sheared all your life, whatever course you attend, just keep an open mind and you will learn something new and useful.”
As far as ages are concerned, training can start at 16 and be delivered to whatever age or gender thereafter; 70 year-olds come on courses, and ever more ladies, year by year.
Colin adds: “And in addition to the mechanised shearing, which deals with large numbers of sheep, we run increasing numbers of courses for wool-handlers. Correct wool-handling on the farm brings many benefits to the farmer, and the course teaches the importance of the fibre and how excellent fleece presentation maximises the value of the wool.”
“We also run courses for hand-shearers – which are proving immensely popular with those who have only a few sheep.”
Pointing out that British Wool shearing courses are now open for bookings, Colin reminds that: “British Wool courses are designed not only to help sheep farmers, but to provide the foundation standards for career entry opportunities. The ‘Seal’ system is your stamp to success, and employers know that UK qualified shearers have a sound knowledge and the highest shearing standards. As such, and as a qualified shearer, you can go almost anywhere in the world and get a job.”
Those interested in online bookings and course details should visit the British Wool Website - http://www.britishwool.org.uk/page/producer-services/shearing.php or keep in touch via Social Media on twitter and facebook - @britishwoolfarm .
Notes to editors:
British Wool is based in Bradford and is owned by approximately 40,000 sheep farmers in the UK. It collects, grades, sells and promotes British Wool to the international wool textile industry for use in flooring, furnishings and apparel.
Students observing at British Wool training course
Tuition on a British Wool shearing course
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