Egelabra has long been an innovator in contributing to a stronger and sustainable future for the merino industry and has shown its commitment to youth in agriculture by training and nurturing woolgrowers and property managers of the future through its unique jackaroo traineeship program.
The business’ willingness to go above and beyond is very evident in its traineeship program which was implemented in 2003, enabling jackaroos to gain a qualification as well as experience. General Manager, Cam Munro believes learning from the seat (the lecture room) before your feet (the paddock) just doesn’t work in the bush and therefore fully embraces the jackaroo training concept which is tailored to suit the younger generation moving forward. “There is plenty of time for tertiary education in ag, I encourage young people to skill up with the hands-on approach, what I call the ‘eyeometer’ approach, before moving on to tertiary education or going home to the family farm.’’ he said.
“The traineeship is hands-on and TAFE have been great in fitting in with our program here at Egelabra. The two-year course enables the jackaroos to complete their Certificate II and III and a few stay on and do a third year where they are in sub-overseer roles and are given more responsibilities handling staff, being accountable for groups of sheep and in some cases may have the opportunity to look after one of the properties. The traineeship fits in with our operation and they learn hands-on about things such as WHS, fencing, crutching, butchery, low-stress stock handling and dog training. Approximately three days of theory are completed on-farm while they go to TAFE in Dubbo for a couple of days to complete their welding.’’
Egelabra employs between 8 – 10 jackaroos committing to a minimum of two years. During their employment period they have the opportunity to complete the Certificate II and III in agriculture. Egelabra is proud to be a leader in addressing the shortage of people with hands-on skills in the industry.
“We need to invest in our youth if we want people to invest back into all parts of agriculture. Everything starts with hands-on skills and the quality of the young people wanting to be on the land is reassuring for a bright future,’’ Mr Munro said.
“The cream is certainly rising to the top much earlier over recent years. It has been a really tough two years for the current jackaroos – as tough as it’s ever been. I have never known anything like this drought, the boys have learnt on their feet, learning skills to be ready for the bad years moving forward and to take advantage of the good years.“I think the biggest high of the job for them is the networking they have for life. We have overseas visitors and backpackers, they travel from Victoria to Longreach delivering rams and are involved in shows and sales so they are seeing a lot and making contacts they will have for life.
“The last two years our jackaroos have reached some personal highs with Jack Lawrence (2018) and Jack Kelly (2019) winning the RAS NSW merino sheep judging competition, conducted at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney. Jack Kelly continued his success with 2nd place at the National Merino sheep judging competition conducted in Perth. So what are the traits which make a good jackaroo? Without hesitation Cam says a great work ethic and a good attitude.
“If you have these then you are halfway there. It’s about wanting to get out of bed early, enjoying what you do and taking pride in what you do,’’ he said. Egelabra is well known for pushing the boundaries and seeking new and innovative ways of going about its daily business. Not content with investing in our youth and training top jackaroos for the future, the business was the first in NSW to jump on board AWN’s DNA program. As one of the program’s early adoptees they have shown their willingness to embrace innovation and invest in the future of the industry.