Regional Development South Australia (RDSA) plays a unique role in supporting the economic development efforts of seven regionally based RDAs and the Adelaide Metropolitan RDA, including Regional Development Australia Eyre Peninsula (RDAEP), and has taken the lead in commissioning a review to bring together in one place the issues that are inhibiting an available and skilled workforce in regional SA.

The RDSA hosted a summit on the 3 June at the Adelaide Hills Convention Centre at Hahndorf to address the lack of available and skilled regional workforce for economic growth.

Enabling regional SA employers to access suitably skilled staff is critical to the sustainability and growth of the state as highlighted in the recently released Regional Development Strategy, Regions Matter, April 2021.  Our regions are the backbone of our state and the economic powerhouse that drives prosperity for all South Australians. The regions contribute around $29 billion per year to the state’s economy.

RDSA have released a report which includes an analysis of the opportunities and barriers to filling current job vacancies and meeting identified needed skills. However, first and foremost, it is a report that identifies significant economic opportunity. The pipeline of forecasted regional economic investment over the next five years is currently estimated at $31.2B across the 7 regional RDA regions. Delivery of just 20% of this potential investment in the next 5 years will result in an estimated additional 24,960 construction jobs in South Australia. However, the timing and opportunity to deliver these jobs (and the economic impact that would create) is increasingly being linked to the availability of both an ongoing and consistent workforce.

Attraction and retention of the workforce in regional South Australia is a long-term and complex issue that is restricting regional economic growth. Add in Covid-19, which has thrown these needs into sharp focus and, as we move into the economic recovery phase, the commitment to fill current job vacancies and unlock future growth is becoming increasingly vital. It is also noted that there is a strong focus on decentralisation opportunities and how this could contribute economically particularly by the Federal Government.

Regional Development South Australia (RDSA) is working collaboratively and urgently alongside all levels of government, community and industry to ensure that existing employers are retained in regions, and that local people are given every opportunity to have the skills and support needed to engage in work. RDASA believe there is an excellent opportunity to create a discussion between all levels of Government to deliver a regional deal for South Australia that realises this pipeline of investment.

This report provides a snapshot of ‘what needs to change to fill job vacancies in regional South Australia’, highlighting key enablers and recommendations for how RDSA can continue to work with government, industry and regional stakeholders to enact change that delivers jobs and economic growth.

To read the report: Growing Our Regional Workforce Review Summary

RDAEP would like to thank those who participated in our ‘Regional Development Workforce Meetings’ and those who have contacted us directly in regards to their workforce issues. Please feel free to share this information with your networks.