Some sectors of secondary and tertiary education, particularly business and English language schools, have had considerable recent success in attracting overseas full fee paying students. The marine education sector in Western Australia has not been very successful in attracting fee paying students, unlike the National Maritime College in Launceston, Tasmania.
FUTURE DIRECTIONS OF THE INDUSTRY
Light weight fast ferries
The local high-speed light-weight ferry industry has been highly successful. The need now is to maintain momentum and stave of competition from other countries.
Much of this industry's success is due to innovative designs which meet the customers needs and world demand.
Many of these designs have been provided through design houses. This has involved much flexibility and vision to enter areas of design not covered by Classification Society Codes. One of the biggest threats to the industry's competitive edge is the speed with which innovative designs can be imitated by competitors. Competitors have access to design codes developed through Australian design and innovation.
However there are high entry barriers for competitors, particularly in the larger vessels range. These are mainly the cost of investment, construction know how, internal research and development and the high level of expertise and innovative design of the aluminium structures required.
The types of vessels built are changing more towards large passenger and car ferries and high speed ocean freighters. Finding new owners to take the risk of introducing a new type of vessel and very large passenger and car ferries may be difficult. Designs may be constrained themselves by limits imposed by materials, engines, water jets and manufacturing techniques.
Threats to the industry include labour costs which are relatively high in Australia compared with Asia, reductions in research and development tax write off and changes to the Shipbuilding Bounty. Some builders have a limited track record in building high-speed light-weight aluminium vessels and many smaller operators do not have the ability to raise capital for expansion and have limited international marketing experience.
In some key skill areas, the availability of trained staff is a further constraint.
Steel shipbuilding, while at a lower level than that of the equivalent aluminium based industry, continues to provide some opportunities for Western Australian companies. Opportunities may arise for specialist steel fabrication for larger high speed vessels if steel, perhaps, of higher strengths grades, supplants aluminium.
Western Australia offers a generally better quality of work than competitors (eg Asian repair yards) for major oil and gas vessel repairs. The Jervoise Bay infrastructure development project may assist the local ship repair industry to grow. However, at present there is only one major docking facility at Jervoise Bay, the privately owned Marine Support Facility.
Opportunities may arise for regionally based repair of oil and gas industry vessels, particularly if local service providers gain access to the Indonesian oil and gas market. The Southern Harbour development at Kwinana may provide opportunities to repair much larger vessels in Western Australia.