Adelaide combines natural beauty and low living costs with a wide range of graduate job opportunities to make it a top choice for recent graduates. Adelaide has been rated as one of the world’s top ten most liveable cities. Known for its free-thinking mindset and plenty of ground-breaking Australian firsts, Adelaide was the first city to abolish racial and sexual discrimination, the first to abolish capital punishment, the first to recognise Aboriginal land rights and the first to grant women voting rights. This forward-thinking, inclusive attitude combined with its natural beauty and relatively low living costs make Adelaide a great place to live and work.
Adelaide was one of the few Australian capital cities founded for free settlers, meaning the city was well-planned and is easily to navigate. The city lies between pristine beaches and picturesque hills, with beautiful parklands and green spaces mixed in with urban surroundings. Adelaide has a vibrant café and restaurant culture, and is a host to many artistic events such as festivals and art exhibitions. The mostly agreeable climate allows Adelaideans to make the most of the relatively cheap transport and beautiful surrounds.
Accommodation in Adelaide is affordable compared to other Australian capital cities, and there are a range of lifestyle options to choose from. With the highly acclaimed wine districts within a short drive of the city and many other destinations within easy reach, Adelaide caters for both work and leisure time, making it a great place to live and work.
There are a wide range of employment opportunities available in Adelaide, although until recently these jobs were predominantly offered by small to medium-sized businesses. That trend is changing, as larger companies realise the value of opening an office in such a vibrant, affordable city.
Although it is relatively small for a capital city, Adelaide offers 5.3% of all employment opportunities in Australia, which represents 4.9% of Australia’s total employment income. Approximately 7.3% of Australian graduates find graduate jobs in South Australia, making it a worthwhile consideration for people who are beginning their careers.
Figure 1: Number of employing businesses in Adelaide vs other Australian cities
The Adelaide economy was once heavily based on the manufacturing industry, but in recent times the focus has been on increasing growth in other areas. Adelaide is increasingly offering opportunities a wide variety of sectors, with the heaviest growth seen in:
Information media, agriculture and mining offer the fewest opportunities for graduate jobs in Adelaide. However, with the city’s potential for growth, candidates for any industry could consider Adelaide when looking for employment.
Figure 2: Percent of total employment per industry in Adelaide
Adelaide is experiencing growth in a range of industries, and the number of available graduate jobs in Adelaide makes the city worth considering. 89% of bachelor graduates in South Australia are employed in some capacity, with 65% in full-time work.
Youth unemployment is relatively high in Adelaide at 16.4%, when compared to the national average of around 13%. The general figures of unemployment including youth are around 7%.
Figure 3: Unemployment rates in Adelaide vs other cities in Australia
That being said, graduate unemployment is the third lowest out of all the Australian capital cities, with only 11.1% of graduates actively looking for work and unable to find it. That makes Adelaide one of the cities most likely to offer employment to graduates.
Figure 4: Graduate unemployment rates in South Australia vs other locations in Australia
Figure 5: Adelaide annual growth rates vs other cities in Australia
At 5.9%, Adelaide has the lowest growth rate of any capital city in Australia. However, that figure could be slightly deceptive because the decline of certain industries offsets the growth present in other industries. The healthcare and social assistance industry has a growth rate of 15%, creating potential job opportunities for people with qualifications in this sector. The healthcare, arts and recreation, and construction industries are the fastest-growing areas in Adelaide, while manufacturing, mining and utilities are seeing negative growth.
Figure 6: Annual growth rate across industries in Adelaide
Figure 7: Percentage of full-time employees working as professionals in Adelaide and other capital cities.
Adelaide has the fifth highest proportion of full-time workers as professionals in Australia. There is a spread of employment across occupations, offering a range of opportunities for jobseekers. Professionals are among the most common occupations, along with trades workers and managers. The least common occupations include sales workers, machinery drivers and labourers.
According to graduate survey results, the most common role titles in Adelaide are:
Adelaide offers a broad spread of occupations and titles for graduates, providing job opportunities in a range of industries.
Figure 8: Percent of total employment by occupation in Adelaide
The mean income for employees in Adelaide is $53,725, which is lower than the Australian mean employee income of $58,011. However, the median employee income in Adelaide is closer to the Australian median, being $46,668 and $46,999 respectively. That suggests the availability of jobs in Adelaide that have a higher income (offsetting jobs that offer less money). The mean income in Adelaide is 15.1% above the median employee income.
Figure 9: Median and mean employee income in Adelaide and other capital cities
The median graduate starting salary in South Australia is $54,000, which is roughly comparable to half of the other states around Australia. It is equal to the Australian national median graduate starting salary. It’s worth taking relatively living costs and location into consideration when thinking about starting salaries – the vast majority of graduate jobs in South Australia are located in the city of Adelaide. A similar job in another capital city could potentially offer a higher salary, but if the city requires a higher cost of living it’s unlikely that a graduate would have more money in their pocket after expenses.
Figure 10: South Australia median graduate starting salary vs other states/territories
Of course, the type of occupation a graduate enters will greatly affect their starting salary. The disciplines that offer the highest starting salaries in Adelaide are engineering, maths, IT and computer sciences. The financial and science sectors in Adelaide offer the lowest starting salaries.
Figure 11: Average graduate starting salary by discipline in Adelaide
Working hours are another factor that can impact on a worker’s quality of life. GradAustralia surveyed graduates from all over the country, and found that graduates from Adelaide were most likely to work between 30-50 hours per week. 49% of respondents from Adelaide said they worked between 30-40 hours, with 48% working between 40-50 hours per week. That only left 3% of respondents saying they worked between 50-60 hours. On average, graduates in Adelaide worked 40.5 hours per week – the fourth shortest working week out of Australia’s capital cities.
Figure 12: Adelaide average graduate working hours vs other cities
For the most part, Adelaide has a high job satisfaction rating. Graduate workers in Adelaide collectively rated their job satisfaction at 8.6/10. While workers in Adelaide seem to be happy with their positions, this rating is only slightly higher than the national average of 8.5/10. That being said, these job satisfaction scores put Adelaide right in the middle of the pack.
Figure 13: Average job satisfaction score in Adelaide vs other cities
Australia is home to a diverse population that come from all walks of life. Adelaide reflects that diversity, receiving scores that are on a par with Australia as a whole. In a GradAustralia survey looking at diversity in the workforce in the different cities around Australia, Adelaide scored a diversity rating of 8.4 – just slightly lower than the national average of 8.5.
Figure 14: Average diversity score in Adelaide vs other cities
On average, Adelaide workplaces made up of 58% men and 42% women. However, when you take different industries into consideration, that divide becomes much more pronounced. The industries that have a high rate of female participation (such as healthcare and education) have more than 70% females in their workforce. On the other hand, workers in traditionally male-dominated industries such as transport and construction are more than 87% men.
Figure 15: Male and female participation rates by industry in Adelaide
The most sought-after employers in Adelaide include:
There are many more opportunities available on the GradAustralia list of graduate jobs in South Australia. When looking for graduate jobs, keep an eye out for new listings on the GradAustralia website, and consider attending a graduate careers fair, which are typically held in the month of March.
There are various career fairs that will allow you to connect with employers that offer graduate students a job. These are usually held in the month of March and may be held in the city or at one of Adelaide’s universities.
The following events provide opportunities to students of all disciplines:
• Big Meet Adelaide organized by AAGE
• Adelaide Careers and Employment Expo organized by 10times
• Adelaide South Jobs Fair and Adelaide North Jobs Fair organized by the Australian Department of Employment
Universities also offer career events to help you learn more about your future jobs and employers:
• The University of South Australia offers: the UNISA Career Expo
• Flinders University offers: the Flinders University Careers Expo
• University of Adelaide offers: University of Adelaide Careers Expo
Many employers also offer ‘entry-level’ jobs that are not specifically advertised as ‘graduate’ jobs. Keep an eye out for these on job boards such as Adelaide-based SEEK.
If you're set on Adelaide but still not sure what you want to do, or haven't had any luck locking down a graduate job, you might want to consider: