A Promising Future for Maritime Jobs for Local Kids

captain of a ship training the other person

MARITIME careers in the Far North are looking shipshape for the future with the Palaszczuk Government today announcing an investment of $16 million to expand the TAFE Queensland Cairns Great Barrier Reef International Marine College.


“This is about supporting and growing a vital Queensland sector, and ensuring these workers have every opportunity to participate in a locally-delivered, critical training program.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk


TAFE Queensland and the College will partner with Maritime Safety Queensland to offer a Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Integrated Rating) which has until now only been available in Tasmania, Newcastle and Perth.
The expansion will help TAFE Queensland to deliver new training opportunities and will include an additional 2,675m² for a new workshop, additional classrooms, staff facilities, and a boat shed.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today announced a $16 million investment to expand the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College in Cairns to deliver world-class maritime training.

The investment, which is part of the upcoming 2023-24 Queensland Budget, will support the 2,675m² extension to the existing facility, to include a new workshop, additional classrooms, offices and staff facilities, and a new boat shed.

The expansion of the college will be delivered by Queensland’s very own construction arm, QBuild, and will support up to 37 jobs during the construction phase and a legacy of training opportunities for the region.

Construction is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2024 and be completed in mid-2025.


“I know this new commitment will be welcomed across the Far North…I’m sure it will inspire more young people to explore an exciting and lucrative career working along the coast, and on the water.”

Cairns local MP Curtis Pitt

Complementing the funding announcement, the Cairns Great Barrier Reef International Marine College will partner with Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) and TAFE Queensland to make Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Integrated Rating) available in Queensland for the first time ever.

An Integrated Rating ticket is an entry level certificate enabling people to work in the industry and one that needs to be revalidated every five years. Until now it has only been available in Tasmania, Newcastle and Perth which comes at a big cost for any employer or employee who is wanting to enter the industry.

A lifeboat and DAVIT system, which are essential pieces of equipment needed to deliver the training, have been gifted by the Australian Navy, via the Australian Maritime Union.

It is anticipated that the Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Integrated Rating) will be offered in 2024.

The training program is made possible by the $21 million Backing Queensland Maritime Jobs – a key election commitment from the Palaszczuk Government to build the maritime industry through more training, jobs and shipping routes.


“The Great Barrier Reef International Marine College is already a major training destination for people looking to enter the maritime industry, refresh training or upskill….Upgraded and extended infrastructure at this facility will attract new students and ensure there is capacity to upskill the existing maritime workforce….By investing in training and jobs, we can ensure our maritime industry is sustainable and competitive well into the future – keeping good jobs and critical services afloat.”

Queensland Minister for Employment and Skills Development and Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer

Further information

The Great Barrier Reef International Marine College (GBRIMC) is recognised as a leader in the provision of maritime training – providing high-quality, hands-on education for local and international clients.
Since 2017, the Palaszczuk Government has committed more than $570,000 on maintenance works and specialty equipment at the GBRIMC – including $120,000 in maintenance works as part of the 2022-23 Budget.
The Government continues to upgrade and modernise TAFE Queensland institutions across the State, as part of the $100 million ‘Equipping TAFE for our Future’ program.
In 2022, the Palaszczuk Government committed $150 million to expand the Cairns Marine Precinct – enabling the maintenance, repair, and overhaul of more and larger vessels.
TAFE Queensland was awarded an initial five-year, $36 million Pacific Marine Training Services contract by the Australian Department of Defence in March 2021.
Under the contract, TAFE Queensland will deliver specialised training to navy and police personnel from Pacific Island nations, who will crew 22 Guardian Patrol Boats as part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program.
Strategically located in Portsmith – a short distance from the Port of Cairns – GBRIMC currently offers a range of industry-recognised maritime courses, including Certificates I to IV in Maritime Operations, and skill sets in safety, marine radio and fire fighting.
Students at GBRIMC have access to specialised training facilities including a Class A Full Mission Bridge simulator, tug-optimised bridge and desktop simulators, a sea survival training immersion pool and engineering workshops.


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