Dear South Australian Premier and Ministers – Post South Australian 2022 Election

Dear South Australian Premier and Ministers, who have responsibility for economic development, education (schools, VET, Higher Education), employment and entrepreneurship, small business, startups and scaleups, trade and investment, post the SA election,

Following on from the South Australian (SA) State election on 19 March 2022 and whomever wins, you’ll know that the business community appreciates the profile of the state we all live in and do business from.  This means that engagement with business, industry and regions will need to be high, understanding where there will be some emerging gaps to address, and many creative ideas feeding into your policy and program design.

Having voted early, it is important to say that I’m not party aligned and there are 5 key election issues outlined in this blog for people from all parties and persuasions to consider.

Each major party has picked projects that are education and job generating related to:

Labor – trains and trams, hydrogen, motorsport and car clubs, IR, roads, Adelaide Fringe, taxi industry, planning, live music, tourism and events, first homes, creative industries, SA University merger, teaching quality, wellbeing in schools and new technical colleges.

Liberal – space manufacturing, plant protein industry, tourism infrastructure and accommodation, no payroll tax for apprentices and trainees, green electricity, North-South corridor, entertainment centre, Aboriginal Art and Cultures Gallery, exports, school upgrades and expansion, sports infrastructure, agriculture, arts, road infrastructure, maintenance and safety, correctional services, affordable housing, events and festivals, empowering women through skills, new classrooms and cheaper public school fees.

The South Australian government has pledged a three-year funding deal for _Southstart – read more from Startup Daily.  A re-elected Marshall Liberal Government has outlined Small Business Support Advisors (which I understand already exists) and subsidising cyber security training for 1,000 small businesses.  This is just a small drop in the ocean, and you’d want to consider who else already has this remit for cyber security training both nationally and at a state level.

Number 1 – Labour and Skills Shortages

Labour and skills shortages are acute, especially in regions so a way to better serve regional people could be considered as well as tapping into the latent workforce potential in the labour market.

A number 1 issue for business and industry – current pains around labour and skills shortages as outline in the following blogs:

What will Unemployment Rates With a 3 in Front of it do for Labour and Skills Shortages in Australia?

Workforce Attraction, Recruitment, Retention, Reward, Recognition And Development

Skills Shortages Biting South Australia On The You Know What!

It would be important for the South Australian State Government to align work with the Employment Facilitators (funded by DESE) and the local jobs plan, seeing who to leverage projects via the Local Recovery Fund and the National Priority Fund.  Not seeing too much direct action here although I note that funding applications for Workforce Innovation Projects have been released recently.

And industry leaders are exploring conversations abut specific sectors, such as ICT skills in SA with this blog post written by Phil Catley.

Number 2 – Scaling Up and Investment

If you ask the question, what are the needs in the entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem there are two main areas:

  1. Scaling up capabilities
  2. Investors

Many South Australian SMEs see a local or possibly an Australian market, but not necessarily a global market to export goods or services and build partnerships.  Victoria and News South Wales are the states two largest trading partners and there are many opportunities internationally, particularly through sister city connections for trade, export, economic development and entrepreneurship.

Capabilities needed for scaling up locally, nationally, and internationally across the workforce include:

  1. Cash and Finance
  2. Coaching and Mentoring
  3. Collaboration and Relationships
  4. Customers and Shareholders
  5. Digital and Technologies
  6. Entrepreneurship and Execution
  7. Infrastructure and Systems
  8. Leadership and Mastery
  9. Marketing and Growth Hacking
  10. Pitching and Public Speaking
  11. Operations and Sales
  12. People and Workforce
  13. Strategies and Tools for Scaling Up

Implementing a Scaling up Locally, Nationally and Internationally Program, alongside export development and funding support, delegation hosting both inbound and outbound (interstate and international), plus global events held in SA could be the combination to gain significant traction for more scaleups.

On the point about investors, we need to encourage more people inside and outside the business community to consider investing in startups and scaleups, alongside other strategies they might use such as property, shares, super, NFTs and cryptocurrency.  Increased numbers and diversity of investors, as well as professional development and networking for them, will see more opportunities uncovered.

South Australia is known for collaboration and there has been a shift on gender representation and involvement in the ecosystem, thanks to several community leaders which is always an ongoing conversation.  Another area to consider is cultural diversity, supporting first nations entrepreneurs, people with disability, migrants, refugees, students and intrapreneurs to connect into the growing community with open access.

Number 3 – International Trade and SXSW 2023 is a must

SXSW is a key event you must put into your calendar, that of your Ministerial and Departmental colleagues, as well as the Lord Mayor of Adelaide, councilors, economic development and local government leaders.  South Australia’s Chief Entrepreneur should be involved too and whatever side of politics you are on, the state should keep that key role.

That event and dates relates to SXSW in Austin, Texas for March 2023.  Why?  Well there is no other event like it on the planet.  The City of Adelaide and the City of Austin have a sister city relationship that has massive more potential to explore plus South Australia has a trade and investment office in Houston, Texas.

Wherever the state has a presence around the world it would be good to see more interaction, online sessions with colleagues in these offices so we know who they are, introductions and connections with potential collaborators, customers and partners.

A collective resource where delegations coming into and out of the state, not only government supported, can be noted.  This approach could provide hundreds of leveraged opportunities for people interested in scaling up globally by hosting groups, going to networking events, showcasing their businesses.

Number 4 – Education, Higher Education, VET

In relation to skills, the focus must be on scaling up capability development, an area that has been raised many times but not really acted upon.  This is where non-accredited and accredited training (drawing from Australian and international programs and content) would be in the mix.  Higher Education and VET providers can play a part here alongside industry and international experts, with options for micro-credentials and innovative links between the business community and education.

On the Education (schools), Higher Education and Vocational Education and Training (VET) workforce, many other countries and regions are taking steps to make sure that they don’t lose the innovation that occurred due to the pandemic and so I wonder if this is something that the SA system can look at too?  Entrepreneurial schools should be way more than 5 if not all schools – this is not about every young person starting a business but it is about developing an entrepreneurial mindset required for every job.

And ultimately the VET sector needs a vision… did you know that the majority of developing countries have a stated vision, 5 year plans that are in their 7th or more iteration, yet our state (and country) has nothing like this strategy.

Number 5 – Changing Things for No Benefit

Finally, #SAparli friends please be mindful of considering the costs of changing names of agencies, departments, funds, logos, policies and programs.  It could be such a waste (like printing how to vote papers for example due to the paper use and the few seconds people might take to look at them) and unnecessary especially if things are working well.

Good luck and may you have the best interests of your electorate and South Australians in your heart and mind.

PS. If you are keen to find out more about going to SXSW 2023 then please get in touch as my ticket from 2020 has already been transferred.

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