10-year strategy to transform South Australian manufacturing

25/10/2012

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Premier Jay Weatherill has launched a strategy to reform the manufacturing sector and secure jobs and investment in high-value manufacturing.

The 10-year Manufacturing Works strategy sets out a series of new programs to respond to the economic conditions that threaten to erode the manufacturing industry.

"South Australia's manufacturers employ more than 73,000 people and are operating under conditions which have dramatically changed - particularly because of the high Australian dollar," Mr Weatherill said.

"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.

"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.

"Techport, Tonsley Park, Edinburgh Park, Thebarton, Waite and the North Terrace health precinct are the sorts of business clusters this strategy will support."

New programs that will be part of the strategy include:

  • a network of manufacturing executives who will use their international experience and mentor other local manufacturing executives
  • a series of education programs to help local companies create new business models, services and technologies
  • a program to encourage food companies to work together to use new technologies and respond to new opportunities
  • a pilot program, based on those used in the US and UK, to use government spending to help small businesses become more innovative
  • four workforce development programs for: displaced workers, and industry academics exchange, innovation management program and careers information portal
  • a government assistance road map to better inform manufacturers of funding and assistance available
  • a voucher scheme to help firms connect with research providers (released this month)
  • a new Mining Industry Participation Office within State Government to map future opportunities, local capabilities and gaps in capabilities (announced in the Budget)
  • a revised Industry Participation Policy to ensure South Australian businesses have full opportunity to participate in major projects.

Manufacturing, Innovation and Trade Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the $11.1 million strategy is the government's response to Professor Göran Roos' report on advanced manufacturing.

"It is built around four key areas: enhancing manufacturers' capacity to be innovative, upgrading the leadership, knowledge and skills of our workforce, capturing overseas markets and addressing infrastructure and policy gaps.

"The feedback on Professor Roos' advice has emphasised the importance of addressing immediate vulnerabilities while outlining a longer-term plan that enables South Australian manufacturing to be high-value, profitable, globally competitive and sustainable.

"We want our manufacturers to withstand unprecedented levels of international competition and emerge stronger - and there's ample opportunity for that in South Australia.

"We need to do more than just rely on extracting resources to underpin our state's long-term prosperity and growing advanced manufacturing is the key."

The Advanced Manufacturing Council, established earlier this year, has guided development of the strategy and the high-profile group, chaired by Professor Roos, will continue to oversee its roll-out.

Professor Roos said that while it is government's role to work closely with stakeholders to ensure the economy is diverse and resilient, the strategy's success will largely be determined by the actions of management and workers in individual firms.

"So while the challenges for manufacturing will continue, it's now more important than ever that we continue our collaborative relationship with industry, the research and education sectors and persevere in the face of adversity," Professor Roos said.