Not only have TAFE NSW graduates Matt and Tahlia Raleigh launched successful careers in the shearing and wool industry, but it was their love of shearing that brought the Cootamundra newlyweds together.
Matt and Tahlia knew from a young age that they wanted to work in the shearing industry, and both left school to study through TAFE NSW Wagga Wagga.
"I left school in Year 9 because I always knew I wanted to be a shearer and I wanted to get into work as fast as possible," Matt said.
"I like the immediacy of shearing. You work hard and you get paid for how hard you work - so commitment and dedication really pay off."
Matt completed a Certificate II in Shearing and a Certificate III in Advanced Wool Handling as well as honing his expert shearing skills through an Advanced Shearing School at TAFE NSW Dubbo.
Tahlia completed a Certificate IV in Wool Classing and in 2019 was named winner of the 'Golden Stencil' at the National Graduate Wool Classer Competition.
Matt, 24, and Tahlia, 22, met and fell in love on a shearing job and the pair now run an 1100-head sheep farm while working for contractors throughout the Riverina region.
The couple were married in April this year, saying their vows surrounded by family, friends, and plenty of four-legged guests.
"That's what we are - we're farmers, we're shearers, we live for that, so they had to be there," Matt laughed.
The newlyweds hope their business, M&T Bardot, will become their full-time gig in the coming years but for now there is more than enough work to go around.
The industry is awash with jobs amidst a growing skills shortage exacerbated by COVID-19, which has interrupted the supply of skilled workers from overseas, and their services are in high demand.
"It's insane the amount of people who call us - it's been like this since last year," Matt said.
Both Matt and Tahlia credit TAFE NSW for giving them the opportunity to achieve their career goals at such a young age.
"TAFE NSW taught us everything about the industry, from the basics on the tools right through to teaching us how to operate as a sole contractor and establish our own business," Matt said.
"The courses were really hands-on; I walked out of TAFE NSW and straight into work the next week. I like the lifestyle of being my own boss and there's plenty of work across Australia if you want to travel around."
Tahlia comes from a shearing family and said wool classing was a "natural" choice for her. She is now expanding her business skill and has returned to TAFE NSW to complete a Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping as well as undertaking a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment so she can one day become a teacher.
"TAFE NSW has great teachers who want you to succeed and be the best you can," Tahlia said.
"TAFE NSW is a great tool to become whatever you want to be."
Explore hundreds of traineeships and apprenticeships at TAFE NSW and pursue your passion with life-changing training. For more information visit www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.