The New Zealand Shearing Contractors' Association (NZSCA) has announced that pay rates for key roles in the shearing industry will rise.
Phil Holden, executive officer of the association, said the decision was not taken lightly by members.
"Retaining skilled staff is absolutely vital for the wool harvesting industry in an employment market where labour is in short supply and everyone is competing.
"The need to ensure we remain competitive has been what's driven us to make this move."
The main focus for members was retaining current staff, Holden said.
"In the light of recent cost of living increases, we need to ensure our members' staff don't get left behind everyone else and our industry remains a competitive and attractive career option."
Shearing of crossbred sheep, all crutching and those cooking for shearing gangs will receive an increase of 6.91 per cent; while shearing of Merino, half breeds and quarter breeds will receive an increase of 12.38 per cent.
For shed hands and pressers, increases of 20 per cent for juniors, 22.81 per cent for seniors and 12.17 per cent for advanced workers will be applied.
The organisation acknowledged that lifting pay rates alone wouldn't address the current skill shortage, and Holden said work was ongoing to address the long-term recruitment and training needs of the sector.
"We hope the government's reform of the vocational education (ROVE) system can be completed as soon as possible so that the training needs of our sector can be clarified and confirmed," he said.
"It takes two years to become a trained shearer, so we can't just fill in the current labour shortages overnight. We need the shearers we've got, to stay."
Holden also explained labour shortages had the ability to threaten recent gains made by the wool harvesting industry.
"We don't want to hinder the growth of our high-end Merino product or the progress that's currently being made to revitalise the strong wool sector.
Any successful industry needed well-trained shed staff, Holden said.
"We can ill afford to lose the staff we have overseas because they're lured by better prospects."
Farmers also needed to ensure the working conditions and environment they offered remained a drawcard for people in the industry, Holden said.
"But the reality is, just like other industries in the primary sector, we'll have to pay more to retain the people we have."