Zack Currie is among the ranks of young trainees taken on by Australia’s biggest independent wool broker to address the nation’s skills shortage.
The 18-year-old from Bonnie Doon, in Victoria’s North East, has been employed by the Australian Wool Network as a trainee wool buyer, learning clip preparation, wool buying, classing and marketing.
AWN is committed to nurturing young people with a passion for building a career in the wool industry.
Zack started in January at AWN’s new Horsham branch under the supervision of wool manager Graeme Telfer.
He had worked as a wool presser and rouseabout for a Mansfield shearing contractor before completing a Certificate IV in wool classing through the Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE.
“My wool classing teacher recommended me to AWN and I didn’t hesitate to take up the offer of a trainee wool buyer,’’ Zack said.
He has been busy getting to know the client base and geography of the Wimmera, and was impressed with the company’s strong staff support network.
“Most days I have been pressing wool alongside my supervisor Graeme Telfer, who has an excellent knowledge and expertise of the industry,’’ Zack said.
“We have been pricing wools that come in the door and keeping abreast of the market.’’
Blending different types of wool to achieve the best price has given Zack more confidence with his in-shed classing.
In his leisure time, he has entered woolhandling competitions at the Balmoral and Natimuk shows.
Zack is now keen to sharpen his skills to compete at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show at Bendigo in July.
AWN, the nation’s third largest wool broker, supports national and local training initiatives for youth, including the National Merino Challenge, Next Generation Farmers Challenge, school wether trial competitions, junior judging and Rural Achiever awards.
AWN is training young wool marketing specialists around the nation and is always on the look out for potential new recruits seeking a long-term career in sheep and wool.
Wool buying division manager Ron Creek said starting at the grass roots level instilled fundamental wool typing and appraisal skills paramount to a successful career in wool.
AWN Horsham’s wool manager Graeme Telfer said succession planning was vital to ensuring the company’s strong future.
Mr Telfer said AWN’s focus on young trainees was important at a time when there was a recognized skill shortage in the industry.
“Young people joining AWN have a golden opportunity to achieve whatever they want,’’ he said.
Mr Telfer has given Zack hands-on training sorting and classing the wools at pressing.
“We are also training him on the buying side, typing and valuing wools through to the invoicing, payment and meeting clients,’’ he said.
“Zack keeps abreast of daily and weekly market reports to value the wool.’’
Mr Telfer said working out of regional divisions gave young trainees well-rounded and broad experience in buying, classing, clip preparation and building client relationships.
Caption: Zack Currie is among the young wool industry trainees to be nurtured by Australia Wool Network.