There is movement at the wool export station with staff changes at some of the countries largest export companies triggering a domino effect of job shuffling.
Regarded as one of the largest shifts in employment since the late 1990s – when companies were closing down due to costly capital investments and low returns – a sudden boom in wool exports has highlighted a staffing shortage within the industry.
The 21 per cent jump in the value of Australian wool exports year-on-year from July to September has failed to dampen demand for the country’s fibre as the volume of wool exports experiences an 11pc jump in the same period.
The growth in export volumes and values has stimulated expansion in operations and seen the entrance of new companies.
The most recent to enter the buying stage is Endeavour Wool Exports, which has absorbed five buyers and industry talents from the staffing pool and inadvertently triggered a skills swap across the country.
Former Perth trading manager for Lempriere, Evan Croake has taken on a role with Techwool in Melbourne, while Sarah Ryan has left her position at Elders, Brooklyn, Vic, to join Techwool following the departure of Cameron Stevens and Josh Lamb to Endeavour Wool.
Lempriere has employed two former Michell buyers, Stephen Hill and Perry Roberts, as well as former Quality Wool, Adelaide, trading manager Brett Woods, and Jon Corstophan, formerly Global Wool.
Industry identity Len Tenace has left his longstanding position as managing director of Segard Masurel to join Michells, together with Chris Pearson, while Stuart Bailey has returned to the industry to buy for Techwool in Sydney after a lengthy hiatus from the industry.
Andrew Partridge has left Australian Wool Network to join Quality Wool as the export trade manager.
Mr Lamb, director of Endeavour Wool, said there was a clear void of skilled wool buyers in the industry.
“It is a culmination of the market being good and people looking positively toward the next five years,” Mr Lamb said.
“The turnaround has been incredible – just 12 to 18 months ago buyers were wanting to hang onto their jobs.”
Mr Lamb said the skills shortage highlighted widespread struggles of successful succession within the industry, as well low returns over a long period which restricted job creation.
“The only way to address the long-term staffing shortage is to employ young people,” he said.
“There has been a vacuum in the last 20 years where that hasn’t been a priority in the ageing export industry but that is starting to turn-around in the last year or two due to positive stories having an effect on young people.
“A lot of 20-25 year-olds have grown up hearing negative stories about the wool market, we need to turn that perception around and the market is now having an affect on that naturally.”