South Australian Budget 2016 – Workforce Focus

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Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill
Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill

This blog post focuses on the workforce opportunities in the South Australian state budget delivered by the Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis MP including employment, entrepreneurship, industry and innovation, regional support and STEM but also highlights a couple of areas that need more attention.

A new format for explaining the budget describes benefits for:

  • Business
  • Households
  • Innovation and entrepreneurs
  • Education
  • The community
  • Environment
  • Defence



For many years we’ve advocated a position of encouraging small businesses to take on new employees’, especially young people giving them the experience we need.  It will be interesting to see how the initiatives outlined below work with skills and VET policy as well as support for training Australian Apprenticeships including those who are School Based Apprentices (SBAs).

  • Job creation grant scheme
    • Between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2018
    • $10 000 Grants for businesses with taxable payrolls below $5 million for each additional new worker.
    • $4 000 Grants for small businesses and start-ups for each additional new worker.
    • Expected to provide grants for 14 000 new full time equivalent positions.
      For more details of this grant, visit RevenueSA
  • Extend small business payroll tax rebate for four years, reducing their payroll tax.
    • Providing up to $9800 for employers with taxable payrolls less than or equal to $1.2 million.
    • Around 2 300 businesses to benefit.
  • Industry participation advocate
    • $1.4 MILLION for the Office of the Industry Advocate to expand assistance for local business to build their tendering skills for local jobs and ensuring local content is used on projects.
  • SA Made campaign
    • $2 MILLION For an awareness campaign so South Australians can identify, support and buy SA made products.

Business SA Applauds Jobs Incentive in Budget and it is good to see a very practical approach to encouraging employment.


There is an important shift in language to more of an entrepreneurial mindset with $135 million for investment in future industries and the tourism sector.

Commitment to spend at least $20 million on innovation initiatives each year. Budget includes an additional $29.8 million for:

  • $10 MILLION – Grants to assist companies at the pre-seed and seed stage of development to grow.
  • $7.5 MILLION – Support for the University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute to encourage innovation and new industry and assist start up enterprises.
  • $4.7 MILLION – Gig city project to create an ultra-high speed broadband innovation network.

These initiatives build on the government’s $53.6 million existing commitments including the Premier’s Research and Industry Fund and Bio-Innovation SA Industry Development grants.

  • SA Venture Capital Fund
    • $50 MILLION Fund to partner with private sector financiers to support innovation and help build high-growth companies.
  • Tourism, Marketing and Major Events Fund
    • $35 MILLION Additional funding to encourage visitors to South Australia and attract major events.
  • Economic investment fund
    • $20 MILLION to continue to attract businesses to the state.
    • $1.9 MILLION Fund biosecurity measures which will enable access to high value domestic and international markets.
  • Planning reforms
    • $24.8 MILLION – Investment will be made to reform the State’s planning system. ePlanning will facilitate faster approvals, consistent planning rules and ready access to information.

Industry and Innovation

Sectors that are supported to grow through the budget include:

Interestingly I wonder if the, “$44.4 MILLION Industry assistance package to the taxi and chauffeur vehicle industry for reforms to the sector”, will see changes including the expansion of Uber and ride sharing services?

Having worked with the Defence Teaming Centre (DTC) on the Defence Industry South Australia Workforce Strategy it is excellent to see a number of measures to build capability across the defence industry.

  • $6 MILLION Defence Industry attraction fund – To secure new defence investment and jobs in South Australia and ensure the future submarine supply chain is based in South Australia.
  • $5 MILLION For the extension of the wharf at the Techport Common User Facility. Funded by an investment from ASC AWD Shipbuilder Pty Ltd.
  • $4 MILLION To build partnerships, and stronger cultural and economic relationships with France to enhance the benefits from the submarine contracts.
  • State Defence Industry – $2.3 MILLION To deliver programs and services that maintain and develop the state’s defence industry.
  • Masterplan of Techport $1 MILLION IN 2016-17 – For a masterplan design of Techport infrastructure at Osborne to prepare for future projects.
  • Trade Exhibition $420 000 – For state representation at the EURONAVAL international maritime trade exhibition in France.

Thank you to the Hon Kyam Maher MLC for highlighting the Innovation for Jobs website that was launched today which brings together the new measures in the budget along with the existing effort in the innovation and commercialisation space, and identifies support and funding opportunities.  This could provide an opportunity to integrate evidence, insight and intelligence on Jobs of the Future and the capabilities needed for the 21st Century as identified by employers and industries through workforce planning.

Regional Support

The State Government’s 2016-17 Budget contains new initiatives that will result in additional regional specific investment of $384 million over the five years from 2015-16 to 2019-20. The Budget provides investment to further drive regional growth, create new job opportunities and build new infrastructure in South Australia’s regions.

Read more here>

Key infrastructure projects and initiatives with budget funding announcements by region are outlined in this interactive map.

Specific support has been announced for regions facing economic restructuring,

  • Supporting Whyalla
    • $50 MILLION Funding to support a new owner of the Whyalla steelworks.
    • $9.6 MILLION Interest-free loan scheme to support small businesses experiencing cash-flow challenges as a result of Arrium entering administration.
  • Supporting the northern suburbs
    • $24.2 MILLION A range of initiatives have been announced aimed at job creation, innovation, business and industry growth and community programs in northern Adelaide.


For Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) there is an investment in schools and Adelaide as a Smart City.

  • $250 million Refurbish and redevelop contemporary science, technology, engineering and mathematics facilities in 139 public schools.
    • 77 Primary schools
    • 44 High schools
    • 18 R12 and area schools

Develop an over-arching Smart City Strategy for Adelaide in partnership with the Adelaide City Council and Cisco and continue to invest in Smart City projects and initiatives, including the deployment of high speed broadband infrastructure to our innovation precincts (Gig City program).

International Education, Skills and Youth

Going searching for areas that you might have expected to be more prominent in budget initiatives, such international education, skills and youth, means that you’ll need to look carefully.

For youth a target is to, “Develop and release the 2017 Youth Strategy for South Australia”, where it would be good to see the connection of policy across employment, entrepreneurship, global opportunities, innovation, skills and STEM.

In Agency papers covering vocational education there are only a few statements that make a reference to VET,

Ongoing improvements in vocational education and information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure are planned to underpin a more contemporary and efficient method of educational delivery.”

Work with the school education, higher education, vocational education and training, and STEM-skills based industry sectors to implement strategic reform priority initiatives that will encourage South Australians to pursue high-value employment opportunities.

With international education there isn’t any major announcements but more of an approach that builds upon existing initiatives with more of a general export focus:

  • Deliver the government’s international program of inbound and outbound business missions in support of greater commercial engagement with target markets.
  • Develop a new program of strategic engagement with Europe.
  • Continue to develop a comprehensive Business Education Program to prepare South Australian businesses for international export success.
  • Continue to deliver the Tradestart advisory program in partnership with Austrade and the Export Partnership Program, supporting businesses in developing new export markets.
  • Expand the South Australia Club network with new chapters in Singapore, Bangkok and Mumbai.

Overall, a more innovative budget that picks up on entrepreneurship, industry and regional development, startups and STEM but the state government still needs to bring this thinking increasingly to employment, VET and youth policy.  An example of how this could be integrated is industry and regional workforce action plans that informs employment and skills growth strategies in an entrepreneurial context and the new innovation framework.

July 2016

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