Australia-First Program Takes Off in Cairns

A group of Far North students will today begin a “once in a lifetime” program that will set them up for a global career and strengthen the local aviation industry.

Today marks the start of an inaugural cadetship aimed at recruiting Licenced Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (LAMEs), a specialist career facing skill shortages in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A cohort of 26 – including men, women, school leavers and mature-age learners – have been accepted into the fully-subsidised program, which was established in Cairns between Jet Aviation and Skytek, with Aviation Australia as the training provider. It is the first program of its kind in Australia.

Aviation Australia Business Manager for North Queensland, Chris Pigott, said the cadetship was designed to accelerate skilled specialists into jobs.

“These cadets will be working closely with industry throughout their practical and theoretical training,” he said.

“They will be able to learn on real aircraft instead of a simulated environment. The industry is experiencing huge growth and this program will help to keep up with the demand.”

“Aviation is an exciting and rewarding industry to work in. It’s also vital for connectivity and services in regional and remote areas such as ours. We are looking forward to welcoming the trainees and I know they will do great things.”

Among the students starting today is Mareeba teenager Marcus Stallan-Caamano, who is the youngest participant in the program.

The 16-year-old, who enjoys riding motorbikes and helping his grandfather fix engines on their family farm, said he was keen to expand his mechanical knowledge and couldn’t wait to get started.
“I’m interested in every part of the course, especially learning about aeroplane engines,” he said.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Students have chosen to study either an Avionics or Mechanical trade pathway, with fees subsidised under the Queensland Government Aviation Strategy for eligible applicants, along with contributions from the program partners.

On completion of the 10-month cadetship, students who meet the criteria will transition to being employed with either Jet Aviation or Skytek. Students will be provided with work experience opportunities, support and mentorship, with monitoring every three months to ensure they are on track.

Trainees who meet the selection criteria for an apprenticeship can expect to become a qualified LAME in four years, while training and working locally.

Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Richard Barker said the program presented significant potential for the wider Far North region.

“There is an exciting opportunity here for us to position ourselves as a growing destination for aviation-related careers and training, which would offer positive effects for the broader community,” he said.