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Economy

How South Australia is reversing its brain drain

South Australia is attracting top talent and reversing years of negative net migration by focusing on skills and the state’s lifestyle.

South Australia is attracting top talent and reversing years of negative net migration by focusing on skills and the state’s lifestyle, says South Australian Premier Steven Marshall.  

Mr Marshall told CEDA’s SA State of the State event the turnaround showed young people were attracted to the jobs and lifestyle offered in South Australia. 

“When we came to government, many South Australians weren’t choosing to stay in South Australia and in fact they were finding their careers in Sydney, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Paris or London,” Mr Marshall said.  

“We set ourselves a goal that within our first term we wanted to get that back to neutral.  

“Well, I can report that we got it back to neutral at the halfway point before COVID and we now have a positive migration to South Australia for the first time in 40 years.”  

Adelaide Australia’s most liveable city in 2021 


The lifestyle of Adelaide and the rest of South Australia has been a major drawcard for many workers and families flocking to the state, Mr Marshall told the Adelaide event.  

Adelaide was recently named the most liveable city in Australia by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index for 2021, as well as the third most liveable city in the world. 

“This is important not only because it’s a nice place to live, but because it will attract investment, it will attract population growth… and job growth in South Australia,” Mr Marshall said.  

Mr Marshall said the SA Government had also been selling the state’s lifestyle opportunities to businesses and encouraging companies to move there.   

Focus on jobs and skills in South Australia 


Mr Marshall said South Australia offered lower costs of occupancy and labour than other states, as well as a skilled workforce throughout the state. 

“We’re very focused on skills development in South Australia, especially … apprenticeships and traineeships in key new sectors,” he said.  

Mr Marshall said large companies such as Google and Amazon, which had set up shop in Adelaide, had realised the importance of lifestyle.  

“I think there is a pivot, I think that no longer people have to be successful by being on the 85th floor of a skyscraper in New York, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Hong Kong or London,” he said. 

“What is important to attract and retain talent is making sure they can be supported in an environment like South Australia, an environment which has a massive ambition to pivot, to change and grow our economy.”