Fleeces were flying at Elite Shearer Training's recent fine wool shearing and woolhandling course in East Otago.

Industry veteran Tom Wilson had become frustrated in recent years by the lack of training, which was starting to affect the wool harvesting industry.

As he went around shearing sheds, he could see the problems young shearers were having and how quality had dropped. So he decided to do something about it. Fellow industry identities Dion Morrell and Gavin Rowland jumped on board and Elite Shearer Training was established.

Earlier this month, a fine wool course was held at the Paton family's property in the Pig Root, supported by shearing contractors Phil Cleland, of Oamaru, and Warren White, of Waimate.

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Mr Cleland was happy to support the initiative as he, and other shearing contractors, was passionate about encouraging young people into the industry and helping them improve their skills to ensure a quality result.He thanked the Paton family for their "exceptional" support, providing both the shed and the sheep, and also thanked the trainers involved.

Ten shearers and eight woolhandlers took part in the course and Mr Wilson described it as "excellent".

The shearers taking part could all shear but needed to improve in shearing fine wool sheep which were "just a wee bit more challenging" to shear than crossbred sheep.

After the course, he was confident they could go into a shed and do a "really good quality job" and said the woolhandlers came on in "leaps and bounds".

Top trainers were used, including Pagan Karauria, of Alexandra, who is both an accomplished shearer and woolhandler.

Three days later, a crossbred shearing course was held at the McNab family's property, Lochindorb, near Owaka, followed by another fine wool course near Fairlie.

Woolhandling trainers Kelly Macdonald and Pagan Karauria take a break.Photo / Supplied
Woolhandling trainers Kelly Macdonald and Pagan Karauria take a break.Photo / Supplied

Mr Wilson believed the industry needed to get behind training, which required a systematic approach, starting at "grass roots" from school level right through to advanced.

He wished the sheep farming sector would reassess its thoughts on a wool levy, a small percentage of which could be used to support industry training, he said.