SIT Graduates and WRONZ scholarship winners take on the wool industry
Publish Date: Friday, 21 February 2020

Ella Caves, Malcolm Dillon, Marc Ludlow, Olivia McCorkindale and Jenna McLellan all have three things in common: firstly, they are recipients of the WRONZ /NZWCA Wool Technology Scholarship (2019). Secondly, they are passionate about the wool industry, and lastly, they are graduates of the Certificate in Wool Technology, completed by distance learning through Southern Institute of Technology’s Telford Campus.  

The Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand (WRONZ) and NZ Wool Classers Association (NZWCA) join forces to fund and administer the scholarships, in order to actively encourage and support training for the future of the NZ wool industry. The Certificate in Wool Technology course is designed to introduce students to the wool industry and provide a comprehensive overview of the whole industry. The result – graduates who are well informed and have clear goals in mind as they plan their futures and career path.   

WRONZ says it is always seeking out new talent and ideas to capture the opportunities within the wool industry. The latest batch of graduates have no shortage of talent and all aspire to progress in their careers with wool. Graduate Olivia McCorkindale said “Winning the WRONZ scholarship gave me the self-confidence to know that I was and am doing a great job with my study. It has allowed me to form relationships with members of the WRONZ and NZWCA, who I hope to continue to work alongside in the years to come”.  She commented on the tremendous amount of information she learnt about the industry during her studies. Distance learning was also no barrier to Olivia’s achievements, with the support of easily accessible tutors. “ My tutor (Laurie Boniface) as well as the Telford based staff who ran my course were outstanding. They were always willing to help no matter how big or small the query” she said. 

Bruce Abbott, executive officer of NZWCA, said graduates from the Certificate in Wool Technology could end up anywhere in the industry, with a wide range of jobs possible, from wool harvesting, wool scouring, and wool brokering, through to manufacturing of wool products, wool promotion, research and more. He said one student studying last year was interested in wool fashion so they were doing the course to gain a better understanding of the raw product and the industry. The students he’s met who undertake this course are really passionate about the wool industry, they talk about the fibre and clearly love wool, he said. The sense of achievement in graduates is obvious as they explain how the course has changed the way they view their career prospects, with the added bonus of their commitment to study being acknowledged by a scholarship. 

Another graduate, Jenna McLellan spoke about her love of sheep from childhood and how this qualification gave her the opportunity to pursue a long-held dream. With no prior experience, she said she had never even stepped inside a wool shed with shearing gangs, shed hands and sheep. It’s been a hectic couple of years for Jenna as she’s juggled raising a young family alongside working full-time, and completing her qualification. She said “the information in this course has helped me so much and I would not have been able to have a bit of confidence behind me to start working in the shed without the course”. Jenna said finishing the course has only made her passion for the wool industry stronger, and she can see a future in for herself working in the industry. “I want to be a part of it and share my passion with the industry wherever that may take me”, she said. The scholarship funding Jenna received was really useful and helped her out as she took time off to do unpaid work in the sheds and tried to squeeze in some extra study time as well. 

Similarly, Marc Ludlow was studying, working as a store wool classer for Philippa Wright Wool in Waipukurau, and supporting his family. “I would like to thank NZWCA and WRONZ for the funding they gave me throughout the duration of the two year course, being a family man with three children the funding we received made life a little less stressful while I was studying”. He said the level 4 Wool Technology course was ‘amazing’, gaining knowledge not just about wool but the whole pipeline from start to finish. “It also gave me a lot of confidence with people, not just in our industry but people in general. I do believe that what I achieved in the two years I was studying is not just going to benefit me, but will also benefit the younger generation that I will be passing my knowledge onto” he said. 

One of the benefits in completing the Certificate in Wool Technology, is it demonstrates to employers how the graduate has applied themselves, clearly showing their achievements and their commitment to passing a qualification.  Graduate Ella Caves hopes to move up in the wool industry and says the course has opened up many new opportunities for her. She valued the course content and learning about the wool system, from coming off the sheep’s back to processing, to the finished product you buy off the shelf. She said the tutor was always there to help if help was needed, and her scholarship helped her out in so many ways, “I’m super happy and grateful” said Ella. The scholarship recipients came from all over NZ, with the convenience of learning from home, they were able to complete their course without having to move or leave employment. 

For more information on the Certificate in Wool Technology, go to or click on the link below: 

For further information on applying for the WRONZ/NZWCA Scholarship, go to or click on the link below