Pre-empting the South Australian State Budget

With the South Australian budget to be handed down tomorrow, let’s look forward to a refocus on current and future job opportunities, considering economic, environmental, social and workforce development needs.

And how might the state with significant unemployment rates do this?SAHMRI_Adelaide_SA

Firstly by understanding employment and job demand, where are the current and future jobs, how are jobs changing and what skills are required.  Making it easier to employer new people with more measures like the Job Accelerator Grant Scheme are expected.

At this time, one of the best indications of job demand linked with skills is Australia Apprenticeships.  Whilst numbers have been declining, Australian Apprenticeships should be a number one priority especially those that are School Based.  What would be excellent to see is the design, implementation and promotion of School Based Apprenticeships (SBA) in business and related fields for Small and Medium Enterprises especially.  There are so many tasks, particularly those that are digitally based, that an SBA can manage for you.  There could be new shared models of managing Australian Apprentices, students on work placements, Higher Ed students working on projects, and industry connections with education and youth services.

Fundamentally South Australia needs more jobs.  That means we need existing employers to expand from large corporates to small businesses – we need more employers, more entrepreneurs.  Efforts with the South Australian Early Commercialisation Fund are beginning to bear fruit and this fund could be even further expanded alongside other levers that encourage scaling up.

Export and international capability development, where countries seek expertise or experiences that are held within South Australia must be in the mix.  Access to those visiting on inbound business missions can have departmental gate keepers and sometimes official channels of communication don’t move fast enough but knowing who else might be hosting international delegations, would be very useful.  On this point, delegations usually have bespoke itineraries designed for them with forethought and behind the scenes tours.  Our overseas colleagues learn so much when they visit however local businesses and organisations might not even know these gems exist.  Regular comments and feedback indicate that delegations put their experiences in South Australia above other states and regions.  What if we could share this knowledge via a program for South Australian businesses?

Sister cities, whilst mostly negotiated between local government partners, provides an underutilised opportunity to connect South Australian businesses with markets and partners all over the world.  Imagine if we could leverage the sister city connections that all councils have across the state with international cities. Perhaps these opportunities are something that the state government, Business SA and industry associations, Local Government Association of South Australia, as well as the business councils or chambers from different countries based here, could collaborate on?

Hospital redevelopment and expansion will need support, as well as further partnership development with the defence sector for naval shipbuilding and upcoming projects.  Another area is connecting manufacturers with entrepreneurs, inventors and those creating physical products.  Sometimes overlooked in favour of tech solutions, which must also be explored, are the guys who make things in factories and workshops for local, national and international markets.  Often engineers, they can see a concept, idea, or prototype and with a couple of suggestions or modifications, make it easier and more cost effective to produce.

Building upon strong regional networks, a workforce stocktake and future forecasting would provide a framework for understanding where job opportunities could be created.  A Workforce Action Plan for each region, matching jobs and skills required with the local workforce, could see major investment attraction that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.  There may be specific locations or towns, such as Kangaroo Island, Whyalla, Peterborough or Mount Gambier where a workforce action plan for the island or town would work best, working together with local champions and facilitators.

Being a state of SMEs, with a divide between traditional small businesses and the entrepreneurial ecosystem, this chasm needs to be bridged.  Exposing owners and managers to lean start up methodologies, the business model canvas in action, and what might be possible to scale up or reinvent could unlock massive potential.  ‘Growth hacking’ SMEs in a short timeframe, with students and young people working on tasks that are always on the ‘to do’ list or digitally based, would bring many into the 21st Century. This approach could also be applied to growth hacking a precinct, Main Street or a town.

Speaking of which, the 21st Century Capabilities that everyone is talking about and wanting to describe, are not currently included in school curriculum or VET Training Packages.  If South Australia wants to change its trajectory with unemployment rates then the state must explore these capabilities including 21st Century STEM and new discovery technologies in education, employment, entrepreneurship and youth programs.  Industry connections with education are key and a stand out school is the Australian Science and Maths School who are hosting the ASMS Entrepreneurs Week event on 6 July 2017 with free registration on where you are invited to pitch your problems and ideas to students to solve on the Real Day Out.

Support for scaling up from South Australia to the world is a gap in the entrepreneurial ecosystem as for many businesses overseas markets are huge and need collaborating, complimentary partners.  But it can be hard to know who is already doing what and where the points of collaboration might be.  Entrepreneurs Week is a good initiative to facilitate these connections, and if collaboration is on your mind then please come along to the Pitch to Collaborate event on Monday 10 July 2017, 5-7 pm.

If you want to be involved in the dialogue on where South Australia has come from, and where we need to get to, then please register for an intimate dinner on Monday 3 July 2017 at the British Hotel where we’ll discuss From Clusters to Ecosystems.

In the June 2017 South Australian budget, it will be important to see a number of interconnected investments that pull the state forward with vision, insight and pragmatism.  It will be interesting to hear what is announced and if this blog has sparked ides for you or holds opportunities to collaborate then please get in touch, thank you.

21 June 2017

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