Written by Jeni Bone
15 March 2022
The new $11.8-million TAFE Queensland Marine Centre of Excellence will be located on Foxwell Road, Coomera, between the existing TAFE Queensland Campus and the northern end of Shipper Drive.
The state-of-the-art campus is due to be completed by mid-2022 and programs will begin from the commencement of Term 1, 2023.
The facility will host a suite of pre-employment programs aimed at stimulating future workforce needs while delivering Marine Mechanic and Boatbuilding Apprenticeships. TAFE Queensland is currently scoping feasibility to new programs that can be delivered from the new site.
Queensland Minister for Training and Skills Development, Di Farmer said the centre will train as many as 500 students in marine construction, maintenance and specialist superyacht training.
“We know Queensland is a prime location for marine industry expansion, but that’s only possible with the skills and training in place and a workforce ready to take on the ocean of opportunities,” Minister Farmer said.
“That’s exactly what the new Marine Centre of Excellence will deliver, ensuring Queenslanders are ready to capitalise on the industry growth as our economy recovers from COVID-19.
“The new facility will include workshops for electrical and mechanical work, fibreglass and lamination, marine textiles and upholstery, and an outdoor boat workshop, welding facilities, staff accommodation and student learning and breakout spaces.
“Since 2017, the Palaszczuk Government has invested more than $225 million into revitalising TAFE campuses, which means TAFE can continue to deliver world-class training with industry-leading facilities like we are delivering here on the Gold Coast.”
Federal Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business and Federal Member for Fadden, Stuart Robert said the state-of-the-art facility will help train and prepare Queensland’s workforce for the anticipated growth in the superyacht and marine industry.
“The government is backing Queenslanders with record funding for skills and training, this investment is part of our Revitalising TAFE Campuses Across Australia program,” Minister Robert said.
“This facility on the Gold Coast joins a number of TAFE renewal projects Queensland and the Commonwealth have worked to deliver across our state for the benefit of Queenslanders.”
“This world-class facility will support locals across the Gold Coast to develop world-leading skills and compete on a global stage.”
Within the Coomera Marine Precinct, approval for new TAFE facility is unanimous.
Trent Gay, CEO and owner of Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard said “The newly expanded marine TAFE facilities at Coomera will certainly be warmly welcomed by all the marine businesses at Gold Coast City Marina.
“Having these facilities located adjacent to the Precinct means that trainees and apprentices will be able to complete work experience and apprenticeships with leading marine businesses and get an excellent start in the industry.
“It’s great to see the government recognising the enormous potential of the marine sector and investing in the future of our industry. We need to be growing the marine megastars of the future here on the Gold Coast to meet future demand and to maintain our position as the boating and superyacht hub of the Asia Pacific region.”
As Trent explained, the unprecedented growth in the marine sector over recent years means the industry is in dire need of a pipeline of skilled marine trades to fill labour shortages.
“Demand is outstripping supply for qualified trades right now,” he asserted. “I would say at least 80 percent of our on-site businesses at Gold Coast City Marina are currently looking for qualified staff – there would be hundreds of positions available here on site today and that will increase further with more yachts starting to travel to the region as borders reopen around the South Pacific.
“Our GCCM Stage 2 expansion which will more than double the size of our current facility and cater for yachts up to 1,400 tonnes, will only intensify the demand for more qualified trades in the precinct.
“We’ve been preparing for this with our own skills and employment programs onsite which will now be perfectly complemented by the TAFE Marine Centre of Excellence right on our doorstep.”
Adam Houlahan, Safety, Training and Recruitment Manager for Coomera-based Riviera said increased training opportunities are great news for the industry and for the local area.
“Centres like this enhance our ability to upskill, train and raise awareness about the marine manufacturing hub here on the Gold Coast,” Houlahan said.
“With a marine industry-focused facility right on our doorstep, we have great access to new technology and training. I encourage people to find out more about the career options available and make their way into the growing marine industry.”
Maritimo’s General Manager, Operations, Phil Candler said the new facility “is a great vote of confidence in our industry and will help further cement its ongoing success.”
“As in many industries there is a shortage of skilled craftspeople,” he continued. “The new campus will ensure the pipeline of trained employees continues to be replenished.
“The new facility will be a tremendous asset for the industry generally and it is good to see all those involved have embraced it. The fact that it is built on its own land gives it a level of independence that is also noteworthy. We can only see a lot of positives coming from it.
“At Maritimo, we place a great deal of importance on our apprenticeship program and that covers the full gambit of skills from life and social skills to industry and boat building expertise. We believe in nurturing the whole individual.”
The Boat Works has invested more than $150 million in the past two years on superyacht refit and storage infrastructure and welcomes the new centre of learning.
“With the increase in demand of boats and the large investment in major marine infrastructure, we certainly encourage and welcome the new facility to help further expand our ever evolving marine industry. More boats mean more jobs,” said The Boat Works CEO, Tony Longhurst.
“To date, there have been few pathways into this industry,” he continued. “In the years prior we have welcome numerous local schools and employment agency to our facility to showcase the variety of skills and options available in this industry. They have all been dismayed at the lack of pathways available to help promote marine. This will certainly give a new energy around all things marine.
“The new TAFE centre will complement the 80+ businesses within The Boat Works – a great feeder that will bolster the ever-growing sector.”
Gary Cooper at Stella Marine, located within The Boat Works, said the next generation of skilled young people could not come soon enough.
“We face shortages in the engineering side of the marine sector. If this new facility is able to start bringing next generation through, it will be an amazing boost to the industry.”
“We need them quickly,” he continued. “From my own experience, I have been constantly advertising since April last year and could have taken on 10 to 12 staff over than time. If you multiply that by the hundreds of businesses in our area, we are likely to be thousands of people short. That presents great opportunities for young people looking for careers in a constantly evolving industry.”
The new Marine Centre of Excellence at the TAFE Queensland Coomera campus is partly funded through the Revitalising TAFE Campuses across Australia initiative under a National Partnering Agreement with the federal government.