Future-proofing Cairns: Labor’s comprehensive plan for local workforce growth

Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development The Honourable Lance McCallum
  • Aviation sector will employ an additional 538 workers by 30 June 2026, a 20.9 % increase since 2021-22.
  • 873 more workers will be employed in maritime and marine industry, a 7.8 % increase over this five-year period.
  • Key actions include supporting the Cairns Marine and Maritime Careers Day on 8 June 2024 and Cairns Airport Careers Day on 25 August 2024.

Cairns and Far North Queensland will benefit from a new Miles Government workforce plan aimed at meeting the need for skilled workers in two of the region’s key growth industries – aviation, and maritime and marine.

Jobs Queensland has partnered with local industry stakeholders to develop the Cairns Region Workforce Development Plan, which outlines 37 actions to address local skills and workforce needs and support those who wish to live and work in the Cairns region.

The 37 actions are grouped under five key themes that represent the highest common priorities for tackling workforce issues across for both sectors, including:

  • Meet future skills needs;
  • Improve attraction and retention;
  • Enhance training system management;
  • Build business capability; and
  • Develop cross-sector work mobility.

The theme of developing cross-sector mobility is a unique but important commitment between the two industries, meaning workers can move between industries during both quiet and peak periods – wherever their skills are needed most.

Both industries are undertaking significant expansion activities that will further increase employment and demand for skills – representing both a challenge and an opportunity for the region.

The plan is also part of a broader Grow Your Own Regional Workforce Program – a three-year, $4.5 million initiative to support up to 20 locally-led workforce planning projects.

As stated by Tourism and Sport Minister and State Member for Cairns Michael Healy:

“There’s never been a better time to be a Far North Queenslander and this new plan couldn’t come at a better time for our region–highlighting our resilience and optimism and setting us up to tackle future challenges head-on.

“Our aviation, maritime, and marine industries are an essential lifeblood of our local economy so it’s fantastic to see stakeholders and local industries working hand in hand to secure a brighter future for our local workforce.

“This comprehensive plan demonstrates that Cairns isn’t just a beautiful place to live—it’s a place where you can find good jobs, enjoy better services, and lead a great lifestyle, especially for our young people.

“Cairns is more than just a tourist hotspot; it’s a place where people want to live, work, and raise their families so this plan is all about making sure locals can get good sustainable jobs without having to leave paradise.”

“The Miles Labor government gets Cairns in ways the LNP can only ever pretend to understand–we’re backing local workers into good jobs with better pay by investing in the skills and training they need to get ahead.”

As stated by Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development Lance McCallum:

“The Miles Labor government is all about creating good jobs for everyday Queenslanders– our vision for Cairns and FNQ is clear; skilled workers, thriving industries, and a prosperous future for everyone.”

“Unlike the LNP’s secret plan for cuts to Cairns, Labor is investing in our future with initiatives that create good jobs and build a stronger, more prosperous community.

“We want Far North Queenslanders at the front of the line for the good local jobs in their aviation, marine and maritime industries and this new plan is about creating real opportunities for everyday people.”

As stated by Jobs Queensland Board Chair Jim Varghese AM:

“Jobs Queensland’s Anticipating Future Skills data projects the aviation and maritime and marine industries will grow by 20.9 per cent and 7.8 per cent respectively between 2021-22 and 2025-26.

“Our research reveals that community connection is a strong motivator to staying in the region. By harnessing the voice of local stakeholders, this plan will equip the region to meet workforce challenges and provide locals with access to meaningful work.”

As stated by Chris Pigott, Business Manager, Cairns Aviation Skills Centre, Aviation Australia:

“The Cairns aviation, maritime and marine industries have common skills needs so it’s been great to build connections across the industries and partner with Jobs Queensland.

“This workforce plan will be game changing for us – we now have clear industry-endorsed actions and will partner with government to address some long-standing issues.”

/Public Release. View in full here.