UK Luring Shearers Seeking That Golden Fleece

UK luring shearers seeking that golden fleece

By GILES BROWN in Christchurch
The Southland Times
Monday, 15 September 2008

New Zealand's sheep shearers are being encouraged to flock to Britain after the country announced it has a shortage.

Although immigration rules for Kiwis travelling and working in the United Kingdom are getting tighter, there is such a shortage of sheep shearers that it is inviting workers from outside the European Union.

Aside from shearers, the UK has also bizarrely identified a shortage of ballet dancers, as well as more expected roles such as maths and science teachers.

Shearing teacher Eric Solomon said the UK could prove an attractive option for many.

“Shearers here don't get paid that well. A shearer here can get paid $1.50 a head and have to work hard for it. In the United Kingdom you get paid in pounds, often without tax,” he said.

It was not uncommon for a shearer to make $800 a day working on English and Scottish farms.

Tuatapere shearer Sam Garrett is travelling to the UK in May for work and said despite a strengthening of the Kiwi compared to the pound, the money on offer was still attractive.

“You can still make two-and-a-half times the money out there than you can here and you get to have a look around the world.” New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association president Motu Tua said many shearers lived a nomadic life for years going from the United States to Europe, then stopping in Australia, before coming back to New Zealand.

“This will be an attraction for some for sure,” he said.

Kiwi shearers would prove especially attractive to UK farmers because of the quality of their work, he said.