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Mobile Workforce Coordinator Project

Mobilisation and Collaboration – Strategic FIFO hub links workers and employers

Project title: Mobile Workforce Coordinator
Timing: Nov 2011 – 2013
Location: Australia
Client: Australian Government

The background

In an increasingly mobile Industry, workforce portability is critical to operations in regions where there are skills gaps.

The opportunity

In 2010, the Resources and Infrastructure Industry faced a supply demand challenge. On the back of the Global Financial Crisis, the far northern Queensland city of Cairns was hit especially hard by a downturn in tourism and high unemployment. In stark contrast, in remote northern and western parts of Australia, Resources and Infrastructure operating companies were struggling to meet their labour needs.

The solution

Born out of a desire to find a solution, a mobile workforce coordinator project was created to manage fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workforces from the Cairns region.

Through collaboration between mining companies, airlines and airport services, Cairns was strategically developed as a FIFO hub. The skills of the region’s existing workers and the unemployed were developed to match skills in demand in the northern and western regions of Australia.

The new FIFO coordinator position funded by the Australian Government managed the supply of skilled labour to resources projects and engaged with Industry, local employment service providers and training providers to identify skills gaps. This coordinated approach enabled links between employers and potential workers through training and work placement programs.

The benefit

Both source and host communities benefited from this symbiotic relationship. A sustainable flow of skilled workers was provided to resources projects, and the source hub experienced increased employment opportunities. By the time the project concluded the Cairns region had a much stronger workforce capacity to meet the needs of the mining and oil and gas sectors in remote Australia.

A broad study conducted in the Cairns region showed over half of all respondents surveyed had at least 21 years work experience and more than 80% of the potential FIFO workforce are machinery operators and labourers, or technicians and trade workers.


This work has been undertaken with the assistance of funding provided by the Commonwealth Government through the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.