Important discussions will be had in FNQ this week. Many of them will take place today at the Cairns instalment of the Queensland Government’s Regional Major Projects Forums.

These Forums provide great opportunities for small- to medium-sized businesses to gather up-to-date market intelligence about the major projects pipeline in their regions. 

CSQ’s CEO, Brett Schimming, will provide a keynote address to today’s Forum in Cairns. Unfortunately though, the Forum sold out fast, so we thought we’d share some of the highlights of Brett’s presentation for those who missed out on a registration.

The Major Projects Pipeline

We see in FNQ there is $1.1b worth of work underway in five projects. A further pipeline of $15.8b across 13 projects in various stages of progress. 

Unsurprisingly, mining is still the biggest financial contributor to major projects in Queensland. But as the next graph shows, this isn’t going to last. Expect the landscape to look very different in 2016 and beyond as mining’s share of investment returns to pre-boom levels.

It is no longer news that mining is in steep decline. And while there is good news in the residential space, it is not at a level to fully offset the wind-down in mining construction.

But this was the most foreseeable ‘cliff’ in history. It was always going to be a temporary run. Now is a great time to lift our heads up and focus on what comes next.

We’ve said before there are good reasons to be optimistic about the industry’s short-to-medium term prospects. The key is the Aussie dollar and how its cliff-dive is pushing along trade exposed industries like tourism and education.

Check out last week’s Economics Weekly from AI Group to see how the benefits of the lower dollar are already showing up in the trade stats – especially for tourism.

So consumer demand will be there, and it’s no secret that our tourism facilities are in desperate need of a touch-up. Tourism, retail and infrastructure: it will all need major investment in the short-to-medium term. A lot of it will come to FNQ, but it will take a few years to start flowing.

The Skills Response

So how does the skills picture look against these industry patterns?

In terms of the overall workforce, it is not as bad as you might expect given the steepness of the mining wind-down. Along with the rest of the state, FNQ’s workforce is landing fairly softly. 

The data also paints a positive picture about the apprentice pipeline. We are not experiencing massive drop-offs. It’s also worth noting that compared nationally, Queensland is increasing its apprentice intake every year at a higher rate than every state except for the ACT.

Across Queensland, and particularly in the North, the mining construction years delivered a very capable and experienced pool of tradespeople who stand ready to meet the labour needs of future major projects in other sectors. Combine that with a healthy pipeline of future workers, and we look to be well-placed for the next phase of growth.