Market Morsel: I’ve got a hint for finding shearers.

Conversations | 7th December 2022 | By Andrew Whitelaw

Market Morsel

Shearing is a tough job; there is no denying that. I was invited to a shearing course for a day at a previous job, and I know that I am not designed for shearing – I don’t think many are cut from the right cloth to do the job.

We often hear about the difficulty attracting shearers, which has been exacerbated by the restrictions caused by covid in recent years.

In the past, we have examined the cost of living crisis facing shearers at the request of a subscriber. Namely the cost of shearing a sheep versus the cost of a beer and a packet of darts (see chart below). Shearing rates have kept a similar pattern to beer, but cigarettes have become very expensive.

However, let us get onto the more serious discussion of the labour crisis. The Regional Australia Institute provide a monthly update on regional job vacancies, which has been valuable. I thought it would be interesting to delve into the data and examine some ag vacancies.

This dataset, provided through the Australian government’s Internet Vacancy Index’ gives an overview of the number of vacancies (three-month average) for various positions.

So shearers, an agricultural position massively in demand. The data should show a massive increase in the number of advertisements for workers.

The second chart below shows there has been an almost absence of positions being advertised. I like to stay in my own lane, and I’m not a recruitment advisor. I do, however, have an inkling feeling that if you don’t advertise for positions, you’ll be less likely to find someone.

It is important to note that this data is only for positions advertised online through the major job boards. It doesn’t include word of mouth or social media etc. It does provide an interesting trend of reducing vacancies!

Maybe shearing contractors need to advertise more widely.


  • Workforce
  • Labour