24 September 2021

Shear passion takes Wil Stanley to next-level career in wool

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Wil Stanley holding wool

Graduate Wil Stanley says the practical skills he learned at TAFE NSW have helped him make a running start in his career in the wool industry. Photo: NSW TAFE.

A ‘dyed in the wool’ sheep farmer, who has been in shearing sheds since he could walk, has turned to TAFE NSW to take his career in wool to the next level.

Wil Stanley, 21, spent much of his childhood in the shearing shed of his family’s 1000-acre Galong sheep property, learning the finer points of shearing and wool classing from his father and grandfather.

But a desire to bolster his employability and immerse himself deeper into the world of wool saw Mr Stanley complete a Certificate IV in Wool Classing at TAFE NSW Primary Industries Centre last year, and undertake a number of TAFE NSW ‘shearing schools’ in his high school years.

“I’m not sure why the industry grabbed me so much, but I always loved watching shearers work and learning from grandpa and dad, who had been around wool their whole lives,” he said.

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“It’s one of those industries that has so many dimensions and there’s always something new to learn. Wool is a natural fibre that looks and feels so appealing, and I’m fascinated by the quest to get better wool.”

Following a stint working in the wool store at Landmark Boorowa, Mr Stanley enrolled in the Certificate IV in Wool Classing at TAFE NSW to help him forge a career in classing.

“TAFE NSW really added depth to my knowledge around why certain processes are done and how wool is priced,” he said. “It’s such a hands-on course and you’re actually sorting through wool by category and class.”

Mr Stanley is currently working as a shearer and wool classer at ram sales, as well as classing the wool of the ewes on his family property.

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Certificate IV in Wool Classing graduates can register with the Australian Wool Exchange to receive their ‘stencil’, allowing them to work as classers in shearing sheds anywhere in Australia.

TAFE NSW wool classing teacher Fiona Raleigh, who oversees wool classing training nationally as the registrar for the Australian Wool Exchange, said wool classers are in high demand.

“There has been a lot of focus on the shearer shortage, but it’s the same for wool handlers and classers,” she said. “I regularly hear from shearing contractors and growers looking to employ our wool classing graduates.

“A lot of people have practical experience on the family farm with wool classing, but the TAFE NSW course shows them what the customer requires and gives them a stencil that is internationally recognised.”

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