Manufacturing sector among target industries in Qld’s new workforce program

Image credit: Nataliya Hora/

The Queensland Government is launching a new program dubbed “Grow Your Own” to bolster the manufacturing and workforce industries in the Cairns region.

In a media statement, the government revealed this initiative aims to create comprehensive workforce plans for key industries in Cairns, ensuring they remain competitive and have access to suitable training programs for both new and existing workers.

In collaboration with Jobs Queensland, the program will focus on several regional industries, including the Far North Queensland water sector, Bundaberg’s food and beverage manufacturing sector, and the Wide Bay forestry sector.

The “Grow Your Own” initiative empowers local stakeholders and industry representatives in Cairns to identify workforce needs, plan necessary skills development, and strategise how the region and its industries can fulfil sector requirements while advancing economic goals.

Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer stated, “The Queensland Government is helping regions to ‘grow their own’ strong workforce – supporting tailored plans which will help regional industries address workforce risks and challenges. The first four regional industries supported by the ‘Grow Your Own’ program are all essential to local economies and job creation.”

Cairns, for instance, is focusing on its maritime sector, which supports approximately 4,600 jobs, the minister noted.

Meanwhile, the Bundaberg food and beverage manufacturing sector plays a vital role in the local economy, contributing around $686 million or 8.3 per cent of the total regional production worth $8.2 billion.

The Wide Bay region relies on the forestry and timber industry, which is Queensland’s third most valuable agricultural processing sector, supporting jobs in the Gympie and Maryborough communities.

Donna Bonney, chair of the Jobs Queensland Board, emphasised the importance of adapting to changes in technology and workforce demographics to attract, recruit, and retain workers with the necessary skills.

“We will continue to work with local industry leaders and provide support so they can ‘grow their own’ regional workforce to meet their current and future needs,” Bonney stated.

Tamilyn Brennan, Jobs Queensland board member and Cairns project sponsor, noted that the initiative involves engaging with local maritime and marine industry leaders to identify workforce challenges and opportunities, helping them “grow their own” regional workforce.

Michael Kerr, FNQROC chair and mayor of Douglas Shire Council, underscored the critical role of water security in Far North Queensland’s growth and the importance of attracting, retaining, reskilling, and upskilling the future workforce to ensure a stable water supply.