Skills initiatives

The BIA is implementing initiatives to inform schools and colleges on the opportunities available at every level in the burgeoning boating industry.

13 March 2024


The Boating Industry Association Ltd (BIA) hosted its second Skills and Training Pathways tour of the Coomera TAFE Marine Campus and Gold Coast Marine Precinct, involving careers advisers and teachers from six high schools and colleges.

The initiative forms part of the marine careers drive the BIA has prioritised in 2024–25, aiming to showcase the extent of opportunities for people of all ages and interests in the boating and broader marine industry Australia-wide.

The tour started at the TAFE Queensland Coomera Marine Campus, the $12-million purpose-built facility adjacent to the Coomera Marine Precinct. The group visited the five classrooms equipped with the latest CAD software alongside traditional tools, warehouse-style workshops with high-tech equipment, and student amenities, to understand the courses and the myriad opportunities the Australian marine industry offers.

During the tour, representatives from schools across the Gold Coast were able to observe first-, second- and third-year apprentices undertaking marine electrical and mechanical work, metal fabrication, marine craft construction, fibreglass, lamination, marine textiles and upholstery.


In 2023, close to 400 students enrolled in marine construction, maintenance and related services at the state-of-the-art TAFE centre.

“The courses are very flexible to suit students at the various stages of their careers, and are available in three-week blocks that fit in with their work and other commitments,” explained Nick De-Vaal, TAFE Delivery Manager.

“There are around 300 students here at various times, from the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and northern NSW, all of them working within their chosen fields.”

From there, the group headed to The Boat Works where Marketing Manager Charmaine Webb and General Manager Shane Subichin presented an overview of the facility’s evolution and continued expansion.

“In just four years, The Boat Works has added an entire 25-acre superyacht yard catering to vessels up to 55 metres,” Webb said, referring to the northern yard.

“The two yards together, over 55 acres, are home to 80 marine businesses spanning the A to Z of services, five haul-out machines with a capacity of up to 300 tonnes, and 60 refit sheds, which are already fully booked.

“The faster we build the infrastructure – whether that’s marina berths, sheds, showrooms or office space – the demand is there from owners, businesses and trades who service these incredible vessels from all over the world.

“In the lead-up to the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games, there’s no slowing down the visitation of superyachts and cruising vessels – and more boats means more jobs.”

Of the 14 careers advisers who undertook the BIA famil, several were familiar with the Coomera Marine Precinct following similar tours in 2023, but even they were astounded at the pace of development in the precinct and the extent of the opportunities available for students choosing their options in Years 10 to 12.

“I visited Telwater, Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard and The Boat Works last year, but it’s changed even in six months,” said one delegate from The BUSY School, Southport.

“It’s just phenomenal! Students and their families would be really impressed with the world-class facilities and the great atmosphere – you can tell it’s a thriving industry.”

To address the industry-wide skills shortage, the BIA has a number of projects and one of those is to partner with TAFE Queensland to support the range of courses and deliver remote learning solutions to regional areas, as well as highlighting the diverse career prospects within the marine industry to address the industry-wide skills shortage.

This partnership follows the success of the BIA’s collaboration with the Australian Industry Trade College (AITC), now in its second year. Their Boating Industry Academy will soon extend its reach when the AITC Redlands Campus opens in Cleveland, southeast Brisbane, in July.

An option for students to dip a toe in before they commit is the TAFE Trade Taster Program. Specifically designed for Year 10 students and fully funded by the Queensland State Government, the Trade Tester Program allows eligible high school students to gain insight into a potential career path they are considering without committing to a full qualification or apprenticeship.

Students participate in training one day per week for nine weeks, scheduled around their other subjects and aimed at giving them a deeper understanding of a qualification that assists them in making an informed decision when choosing a TAFE at School course or continuing with further studies.

“In 2024, we will ramp up our marine careers focus, promoting the wide range of pathways into the marine industry for people with diverse backgrounds and skills, and the exciting opportunities on offer to work with local, national and international companies,” explained BIA’s Andrew Fielding.

“Careers advisers, parents and students are often surprised to learn there’s more to the marine industry than building boats,” he continued.

“As well as boat design and construction, there’s interior fit out, vessel repair, maintenance and refit, marine engines and electronics, sales and marketing, management, crewing, marina services and marine tourism.

“We have published a thorough guide to careers in the marine industry and, with TAFE Queensland, we’re working with hundreds of schools, attending careers expos and open days to meet people and spread the message that the marine industry is hiring.”

Coinciding with the 2024 Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show (SCIBS) from 23 to 26 May, the BIA will host a tour for interested students taking in the TAFE Marine Campus and the Coomera Marine Precinct boat yards and manufacturers, then culminating in a visit to the show.

“SCIBS is a vibrant, fun and informative event, covering every facet of our dynamic, global industry and a great way to convey the diversity of careers on offer,” explained Fielding. “There’s something for everybody!”

BIA has members all over Australia, the majority of them small to medium-sized businesses, and 85 percent of them have job vacancies for immediate start. The marine industry is worth $8 billion to the Australian economy. It’s full of creative, supportive people who love what they do. With a reputation for quality and ingenuity, Australian products are in demand the world over.

“There is a skills crisis in the marine industry and we’re working on many fronts to address them, to encourage the next generation of apprentices, as well as qualified tradies keen to change industries and experienced, skilled workers looking for a career that blends livelihood with lifestyle,” Fielding stated.

“The time is right to discover what’s on offer and make the leap to the bluer pastures of the marine industry.”



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