In a Migration Solutions exclusive, Premier Jay Weatherill outlines what his party’s plans are for skilled migration and population growth in South Australia in the lead up to the Mach 15 election.

Our State is consistently recognised as one of the most liveable places in Australia – Adelaide as one of the most liveable cities in the world.

We want to ensure that we are always seen that way  – by people who live here and people who want to come here.

We often hear talk of young people leaving to take up opportunities interstate.

But why wouldn’t we encourage our best and brightest young people to do this – knowing that many of them leave with a clear intention of coming home?

Of course, some choose to leave for the long term, but what you don’t often hear, is that In the past financial year, we had nearly 6500 new arrivals in the 15-29 age group. That is an 80 per cent return rate on the 8000 who left.

These young people come here with new skills, personal and career experiences which they bring to benefit our State.

The State Government has a range of policies and initiatives directed at skilled migration.

As part of our Building a Stronger South Australia series of policies, we recently released Our Jobs Plan – which includes a focus on skilled migration.

The State Government wants to ensure that the wellbeing of South Australians is enhanced by planning for and balancing the social, economic and environmental impacts of population growth.

The Australian Government’s skilled migration program should complement efforts to build the skills of local workers and balance community and industry expectations.

South Australia has successfully used the Australian Government’s regional sponsorship initiatives, combined with Adelaide’s regional status, as part of its economic development strategy to attract skilled migrants to help address skill shortages that impede the creation of other jobs.

Recent changes to Australian Government migration policies have significantly reduced the effectiveness of this regional concession to South Australia. The South Australian Government succeeded in getting the Australian Government to review the intent and effectiveness of regional migration concessions. South Australia is now contributing to this review with the aim of ensuring the restoration of incentives that properly restore the effectiveness of regional migration concessions.

We now have quicker, simpler administrative processes encouraging migrants to South Australia.

Since initiating a reform project in August last year, Immigration SA has received an average of 65 applications per week, compared to 28 applications per week prior to the project.

A State Government campaign is also underway encouraging international graduates of South Australian universities to apply to stay here when their skills match up to local shortages.

As a result of this campaign and ongoing work by Immigration SA, visits to its website have increased to 23,000 last month, compared with 17,000 at the same time last year.

Adelaide continues to attract high numbers of international students with more than 28,000 coming here in 2012 generating 6500 local jobs. This compares with 11,080 when we came to office.

We now hold 5.5 per cent of the market share – up from 4 per cent in 2002 and this activity injected $879 million into our economy last financial year making international education our largest service export industry and sixth largest export overall.

Our focus is on innovation, diversifying and growing our economy to create jobs and attract more people from interstate and overseas to come here and work.

There’s really not a more important time than right now for us to be concentrating on how we can emerge stronger from the challenges that lie ahead for all of us.

We’re good at doing that in South Australia. Many people are showing that they are keen to be a part of the exciting changes that are underway in our State. We are keen to have them here.

Jay Weatherill – Premier of South Australia

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