15 May 2024

New Zealand's wool quality assurance sector up in the air

4:03 pm on 15 May 2024
Wool grading

Wool grading Photo: Tessa Charles

The future of wool classing education is up in the air, with the last two remaining tutors leaving their jobs next month.

The Southern Institute of Technology runs a two-year Certificate of Wool Technology and Classing but the institute has yet to replace the tutors.

Semester two begins in early July.

All fine wool and mid-micron wool bales are given the tick of approval by wool classers in the shearing shed.

To do the job, classers must pass the certificate, but doubt surrounds the future of the tertiary course.

New Zealand Wool Classers Association chairperson Tracy Paterson said this could have serious implications for New Zealand's wool reputation.

"New Zealand has a very long and proud history of exceptional first class wool and in order to maintain that we do need to know that our quality assurance is going to continue, the wool classing certificate is really important component of that.

"Obviously we have classers now, but in the longer term, if there's no formal training then we do run the risk of having the quality of wool preparation going down."

The Wool Classers organisation would help in any way it could to ensure the wool classer course continued, Paterson said.

About 60 students are on the two-year certificate course at the moment.

"The current tutors have kindly offered to help with the on-going education to get students through to the end of their block courses, but it's more than marking assignments, there's a big level of pastoral care.

"Students need to know they can call their tutors to ask questions and that they'll be readily available."

The Southern Institute of Technology has been approached for comment.

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