THE QUEENSLAND government has committed funding to growing the maritime workforce in Cairns.

The local maritime industry is one of four regional sectors included in the new “Grow Your Own” program in Queensland, which has a budget of $4.5 million over three years.

The program is designed to support the delivery of workforce plans to ensure ready access to suitable training programs to attract new workers and upskill existing workers.

It aims to help local stakeholders and industry representatives to identify workforce needs, plan what skills will be required and map how the region and industry can meet the needs of the sector and support the region’s economic goals.

“In Cairns, securing a strong maritime and marine workforce is essential, with the Port of Cairns currently servicing 15% of Australia’s registered vessels,” member for Cairns Michael Healy said.

“And we know water is critical to many businesses and livelihoods across Far North Queensland – so maintaining an operational water workforce is a priority.”

Di Farmer, Queensland minister for employment and small business and for training and skills development, said the Cairns region’s maritime sector supports an estimated 4600 jobs.

“With the support of Jobs Queensland, Cairns industries will be encouraged to think differently – to fill skills gaps and tailor their approach to attraction and retention to the communities in which they operate.

“Grow Your Own will ensure regional industries have the right people, with the right skills, in the right jobs, at the right time.”

Jobs Queensland board member and Cairns project sponsor Tamilyn Brennan also welcomed the additional funding.

“Jobs Queensland is engaging with local maritime/marine industry leaders to gather local intelligence that will identify local workforce challenges and opportunities and support them to ‘grow their own’ regional workforce to meet their current and future needs,” she said.

Other regional industries set to receive additional funding and support are the Far North Queensland water sector, the Bundaberg food and beverage manufacturing sector and the Wide Bay forestry sector.