International education to unlock opportunities for South Australian businesses



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The opportunities available to South Australia through international students “is bigger than any of us can understand,” according to StudyAdelaide Chair, Sean Keenihan.

Speaking at a CEDA event in Adelaide, Mr Keenihan said that international education had provided the state far reaching benefits in almost every sector.

“International education is bigger than anyone in this room understands, I’m very confident in saying that,” he said.

“$1.62 billion, our second largest export, more than copper, more than wheat, more than barley, more than fish.

“Thirty eight thousand students, that’s a lot of people running around generating a lot of vibrancy in our state.

“They’re out there and some of them are starting to come back and when they’re coming back they are delivering exports, they are delivering tourism revenue, they’re delivering property investment, they’re delivering new retail engagement.”

Mr Keenihan said that South Australian businesses should explore hiring international students as they not only provide language skills but access to international markets and great entrepreneurial skills.

“Our universities, our VET providers, they all train these people to be job ready,” he said.

“They bring connections to a market, they bring insights into a South Australian business from a global perspective.

“I think we could all do with a bit of that from time to time and they’re eager for it, all you’ve got to do is let them in.

“To an extent there’s some anxiety about ‘that’s going to take my focus away from cash flow, my existing strategy’, I can say that there are better models – the universities and other providers are better prepared than ever to support you through that journey so that you’re not doing it all by yourself.

“If we understand this mindset and understand it’s not such a leap, it’s not a business killer, it’s not an unnecessary distraction.”

Flinders University Vice-President and Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), Sebastian Raneskold said the university is increasingly providing students the opportunity to attain industry experience prior to graduation.

“We’re proud of our work integrated learning program and that’s something where we add industry placement, clinical placement throughout the course with a view to prepare students better for the moment they graduate as opposed to a more sequential approach,” he said.

“A large proportion of students at our universities are post-graduate students and they come to us very often with previous work experience, a number of years of work in their home country, maybe in a managerial role.

“When they graduate they are not just a kid seeking work experience, they are a real asset and can contribute from day one and they can assist businesses and organisations with perspective from their home countries.

“We need to think about it as a broad talent pool.”

Wines by Geoff Hardy Chief Executive Officer, Richard Dolan said that taking a chance on an international student to fill a temporary role some years ago had provided huge export growth for the business.

“We skilled them up pretty quick and there were green shoot opportunities,” he said.

“We scooted around Adelaide and got in touch with the Australia China Business Council, we saw the grass shoots opportunity, developed a strategy and continued to refine that over the next few years.

“At that stage we were 90 per cent domestic distribution 10 per cent export, today we’re 66 per cent export, 85 per cent of which goes to China.

“Some of the practical applications in our business have been that we’ve had post grad students looking at our sales and marketing strategies, we’ve implemented a lot of their recommendations over the last few years.

“If our international student industry is to prosper it is incumbent on every small and medium sized business to consider the recruitment of an international student because if not, we lose out on our competitive advantage in the market place.

“The city of Adelaide has a great employer portal and that really helps you connect employers to students and the universities are on hand to provide all the advice that you need.”

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