SA government launches 10-year plan for manufacturing

SA Premier Jay Weatherill has announced an $11 million, 10-year strategy to support the state’s manufacturing sector.

The announcement was a response to a report delivered in March by Goran Roos, an Adelaide Thinker in Residence and head of the Advanced Manufacturing Council.

Roos’s report warned about the erosion of capability in the manufacturing sector, which employs 73,000 South Australians, due to workers being lured away by the resources industry boom. Roos has argued manufacturing provides five jobs indirectly for every job created within the sector.

“The role of government in ensuring the future of the manufacturing sector is critical,” Roos told Adelaide Now.

“It takes longer and is much more complex and costly to rebuild a competitive manufacturing industry than it is allowing it to die.”

Weatherill’s plan focuses on high-end manufacturing, includes mentorship by executives and the linking of expertise across similar businesses within innovation precincts.

“We need to compete with other countries by making products that are niche, high-value products, rather than cheap products, made by workers on low wages,” said Weatherill.

"Under our advanced manufacturing strategy, we will grow high-tech precincts with clusters of small businesses coming together to share knowledge and ideas, as well as work closely with universities and other institutions."

Earlier this month, at Roos’s recommendation, the South Australian government allocated $1 million for “innovation vouchers” to encourage high-tech SMEs to collaborate with research institutions.

"This program and a range of other initiatives aim to support manufacturers to innovate and deliver high-value commercial outcomes," explained the state’s Employment, Higher Education and Skills Minister Tom Kenyon.