Coomera Precinct tour highlights job opportunities
Coomera Marine Precinct hosted a group of teachers and industry proponents for a tour of the new TAFE Marine campus, major boat builders, Riviera and Maritimo, and key tenants at The Boat Works shipyard to see for themselves the thriving manufacturing enterprises with plenty of job opportunities.
The half day tour could not take in every boating business in the Precinct, and only showed a fraction of the thriving manufacturing that takes place in the hundreds of marine enterprises in Coomera and around south-east Queensland.
On the tour were four teachers/department heads from Hillcrest Christian College who are involved in the College’s Pathways program, focused on training and careers for students. They were joined by Nick Tani, TAFE Queensland Business Development Officer, and Nick De-vaal, Delivery Manager at the new TAFE Marine campus at Coomera, Andrew Scott, the CEO of the Boating Industry Association (BIA) and Jeni Bone, contributing editor at Ocean Media.
Their Coomera famil started at the new TAFE Marine Campus, a purpose-built facility for trades and training specific to the marine industry. Since the TAFE Marine campus opened at the start of 2023, more than 300 students have enrolled.
The high-tech facility comprises large workshops for hands-on learning in areas of electrical and mechanical, fibreglass and lamination, marine textiles and upholstery, as well as an outdoor boat workshop, welding facilities, classrooms with AV and computers, plus student and staff lunch and breakout spaces.
Courses include Certificate III Marine Mechanical Technology and Certificate III Marine Craft Construction, complemented by many other courses at nearby Ashmore TAFE and the recent addition of a Boating Industry Academy at the Australian Industry Trade Academy (AITC) in Robina, supported by the BIA and industry partners Stella Marine, Lightwave Yachts, Telwater, Riviera and Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard.
From there, the group took the five-minute drive to Riviera Australia where they were met by Adam Houlahan, Safety Manager for a tour of the factory that demonstrated the entire build process of Riviera’s luxury motor yachts.
Founded in 1980, Riviera has grown in size and stature to become Australia’s largest builder of luxury motor yachts and they have now launched over 5,900 yachts since inception. Today, Riviera has more than 900 people onsite who will build this year around 150 luxury motor yachts from 39 to 78 feet.
Over 60 percent of this production will be exported around the world. The company has a proud and awarded history of attracting and training apprentices, many of whom go on to senior positions within the business or overseas within the Riviera network. This year, they have 120 apprentices working on-site covering all trades.
Riviera is now in the process of recruiting their 2024 years 11 and 12 school-based apprentices who will start in January next year. Information evenings and factory tours are being held on Wednesday 19 July and Thursday 27 July from 5.30pm at the Riviera factory.
Pre-registration is required and further information can be found online.
The next stop was Maritimo, where the team is preparing to launch the brand’s new flagship model, the M75 Flybridge model, Maritimo’s largest in its 20-year history. The M75 will make its global debut 14 & 15 July at Sanctuary Cove, coinciding with a Careers Open Day for the public, aiming to attract people to undertake apprentices in a variety of skills: Boat building, Fabrication, Composites, Marine Diesel Technology, Cabinetmaking, Design, and Refinishing Technology.
Currently, Maritimo has 33 apprentices working among 18 departments, with a view to bring on more next year.
After Maritimo, the tour headed to The Boat Works, a 55-hectare shipyard and marina complex with two distinct yards and all the amenities of a “village” for visiting vessels, owners, crew and contractors, the 80 on-site tenants and locals who love the vibrant waterfront views and ambience of this buzzing facility.
Charmaine Webb, Marketing Manager at The Boat Works, welcomed the group at the Captains VIP Lounge which offered superb views over the superyachts in the marina, the hardstand and sheds filled with superyachts and serviced by an army of trades.
Charmaine presented an overview of The Boat Works, its history and evolution over the past 25 years. She pointed out that in just three years since ground was first broken, the Northern Superyacht Yard has developed into a colossal facility, that together with the adjoining boat yard, hauls out a steady stream of vessels up to 300 Tonnes and its 80 sheds are fully booked. The two yards haul out up to 2,800 vessels from the water each year.
Increasing demand has spurred further expansion and investment, adding more major infrastructure yet again to the facility, with additional berths, more sheds and hardstand along with welcoming new marine trade specialists onsite.
By June next year, the Northern Superyacht Yard will have doubled in size.
From there, the group headed across to tenants, Choice Stainless and Stella Marine Group, commenting on the manicured landscape gardens, tropical foliage, palms and spectacular cactus gardens that make The Boat Works a home-away-from-home for superyacht crew who may have to stay on-site for weeks or in some cases, months for complex refit projects.
At Choice Stainless, Geoff Stevens founded Choice Stainless in 2006, and has been at The Boat Works for 15+ years. Choice is a family-run business specialising in stainless-steel fabrication, led by Geoff and his son Niko, along with daughter Kayla and wife Andrea working in Admin and Accounts.
“We have 12 employees and we’re growing every year,” said Geoff. “We have expanded our premises and services, investing in new laser cutting tools and in-house CAD. Our range of products has increased to include solar panel frames, tender cradles, davits, rails, tanks, brackets, duckboard rails, targas and more.”
Stella Marine Group is another long-term tenant at The Boat Works growing and diversifying to keep pace with demand.
Stella is Australia’s largest manufacturer of marine desalination solutions, as well as the largest service and retrofit centre in Australia for fin stabilisation systems, providing both hydraulic and full electric solutions.
As Gary Cooper, CEO of the Stella Group explained, “Stella now occupies a large new purpose-built facility at The Boat Works, combining our engineering, manufacturing and distribution into one stream-lined new operation.
“With our new capabilities in our machine shop and in-house Naval Architect heading our design department, Stella can offer ‘concept to complete’ solutions for all owners.”
Stella has purchased new machinery including a new laser cutter with tube cutting capacity, new CNC hydraulic cylinder honing machine capable of honing cylinder up to 2-metres long and 200-millimetres diameter, CNC mill and CNC lathe.
“Our machining and production capabilities have jumped to the forefront with the opening of our new premises,” Gary continued. “This will extend our offer to our clients and our capabilities to develop more amazing Stella products like our swim platforms and watermakers.”
Enjoying refreshments at Kokomo Kitchen & Bar waterfront dining, the group reflected on the informative and inspiring tour of the Coomera Marine precinct.
“It’s such a great space and great to see a fast-growing industry on the Gold Coast. I was quite proud to see the production and business opportunities and employment for students and where it could take them,” said Renee Taylor, teacher at Hillcrest Christian College.
Her colleague, Joalene Van Dam was equally impressed, saying “The industry visit to Riviera, Maritimo and The Boat Works offered me invaluable insights into the world of luxury boating and boat maintenance. It was great to see the stages of boat building and all the different trades involved in the process. It was a journey that underscored the Gold Coast’s reputation as a hub for the finest craftsmanship and innovation within the marine industry.”
Andrew Scott, CEO of the Boating Industry Association (BIA) said the Teacher Professional Development excursion to the Coomera Marine Precinct was the ideal means of showcasing the industry.
“One of the ways to demonstrate marine manufacturing and its potential is to invite careers advisers and school representatives to tour the Coomera Marine Precinct. The BIA is willing to be involved at every stage of educating the educators.”
He continued, “The BIA has four key priorities: Member programs, government advocacy, promotion of the boating and light commercial industry as a lifestyle and career opportunity, and skills, education and training.
“We are focused on collaborating with members to attract and retain people in the boating and broader marine industries.”