South Australia and its capital city, Adelaide, offer enticing drawcards for graduates looking for their graduate job. South Australia has developed a culture of festivals, events, sport, great food and wine. The climate is described as ‘Mediterranean”, which equates to hot, dry summers and cool, mild winters. The country in South Australia is home to both wine and beer crafters, with the famous Barossa Valley, the Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley producing more than a third of Australia’s wine.
The cost of living in South Australia is relatively low, with Adelaide having the lowest average house prices of any capital city. The city of Adelaide itself is easy to get around, with the public transport being convenient and relatively inexpensive. A disadvantage of living in South Australia is that compared to other parts of Australia, it can be difficult to secure employment. That being said, if you do manage to get a graduate job in South Australia, you can expect beautiful surroundings, reasonable living expenses and a great environment to start your career.
Figure 1: Number of employing businesses in South Australia (SA) vs other states/territories
South Australia’s economy slowed in 2016 but has recovered strongly with positive growth, with business investment in South Australia just below the national average. South Australia lays claim to 6.7% of the job opportunities around Australia, which represent 6% of the total national income. Out of all graduates in Australia, 7.3% find employment in South Australia. With 50,539 employing businesses, South Australia has the fifth highest number of places to work in Australia.
Figure 2: Per cent of total employment per industry in South Australia (SA)
Industries which employ a high percentage of the South Australian workforce include health care and social assistance, retail trade, manufacturing, construction, education and training. Health care and social assistance are by far the largest employer, employing 15.1% of the South Australian workforce. Industries which employ the smallest percentages of the South Australian population include mining, utilities, information media and telecommunications.
Figure 3: Employment status of graduates with a bachelor degree in South Australia (SA)
Most graduates in South Australia are employed, with 65% in full-time employment and 24% in part-time or casual employment. 11% of graduates seeking employment have been unable to secure full-time work. While South Australia might have a reputation for being a difficult place for graduates to secure a job, these figures are fairly positive when compared to other locations across Australia.
Figure 4: South Australia (SA) annual growth rates vs other parts of Australia
Following challenges in South Australia’s economy in 2016, the state has recovered well and has experienced the highest growth rate for the state in the last decade. South Australia’s economy is expected to grow at a more modest rate than most states and territories in Australia, with a forecasted growth rate 5.10%, lower than the national average of 8.3%. of Employment in South Australia is expected to continue to increase over the next five years.
Figure 5: Annual growth rate across industries in South Australia (SA)
Industries in South Australia which are expected to increase at a faster rate include health care and social assistance, professional, scientific and technical services as well as accommodation and food services. Industries expected to decline include mining, manufacturing and utilities, with other industries expecting slower growth including agriculture, forestry and fishing, wholesale trade, financial and insurance services.
Figure 6: Unemployment rates in South Australia (SA) vs other states/territories
South Australia has experienced a high unemployment rate for young people aged 15-24, with the state’s youth unemployment rate at 16.1%, higher than the national average of 12.9%. South Australia’s unemployment rate for all adults aged 15 and over is more positive, at 6.2%, similar to other states including Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, and slightly higher than the national average. Graduate unemployment is more positive, with the third lowest rates of graduate unemployment in the country, a positive sign for university graduates seeking a full-time graduate job.
Figure 7: Graduate unemployment rates in South Australia (SA) vs other states/territories
For South Australians employed as professionals, technicians and trades workers, jobs in South Australia are generally easier to find, with 23.5% of the South Australian workforce employed as professionals, with a further 17.7% working in a technician or trades role. Sales workers and machinery operators and drivers have the lowest proportion of the job market at 5.8% and 7.5% respectively. When compared to the rest of Australia, South Australia’s 15.8% of full-time professional workers is the third-highest in Australia, with the same percentage of Tasmania.
Figure 8: Percentage of full-time employees working as professionals in South Australia (SA)
According to Graduate Survey results, the top 5 roles in South Australia are:
Figure 9: Median and mean employee income in South Australia (SA) vs other states/territories
Compared to other states and territories, South Australia shows modest mean and median employee incomes, with the state’s mean and median lower than all regions of Australia except Tasmania. For all workers in the state, the median employee income is $45,316 per annum, while the mean income sits at $52,212. The mean income is 15.2% higher than the median, which is a relatively small gap when compared to other states. In contrast, the picture for graduates in search of a job is more positive, with higher wages and lower unemployment.
Figure 10: South Australia’s (SA) median graduate starting salary vs other states/territories
The median starting salary for South Australia is $54,000, equal to the national average. With lower living costs than other states such as New South Wales and Victoria, the median starting salary for graduates in South Australia is advantageous for graduates looking for a job in the state.
Graduates with degrees in engineering, maths, IT and computer science are generally offered higher starting salaries, with an average of $71,250. Graduates with degrees in finance, accounting, economics or business administration are offered lower starting salaries, $54,719 on average, close to the national median of $54,719.
Figure 11: Average graduate starting salary by discipline in South Australia (SA)
Figure 12: Average work hours per week for graduates in South Australia (SA)
When South Australian graduates were asked about the length of their average work week, the main responses were tied. 48% said they worked between 30-40 hours, and a further 48% estimated their average work week at 40-50 hours. Of all graduates, 4% reported an average work week of 50-60 hours. Based on these responses, the average work week for South Australians is 40.7 hours long. Graduates in South Australia have the third shortest work week in the country, with graduates in the Northern Territory working, on average, 7 more hours per week.
Figure 13: South Australia (SA) average graduate working hours vs other states/territories
Figure 14: Average job satisfaction score in South Australia (SA) vs other states/territories
In GradAustralia’s national survey, South Australian graduates rated their job satisfaction at an average of 8.6, which is just slightly above the national average.
Figure 15: Average diversity score in South Australia (SA) vs other states/territories
In GradAustralia survey results, South Australia was given a relatively low diversity score of 8.4, which is just below the national average.
Figure 16: Gender comparison of workforce participation rates by industry in South Australia (SA)
The average female participation rate in South Australia is 42.1%, which is similar to the average throughout Australia. Industries in South Australia with higher female participation rates include health care, education and training, financial and insurance services as well as administrative and support services – similar to other regions throughout Australia.
Industries will lower female participation rates include mining, construction, utilities, manufacturing, transport, postal and warehousing.
Figure 17: Median graduate starting salary for males and females in South Australia (SA) vs other states/territories
Median graduate starting salaries in South Australia are lower than those offered in a number of other regions in Australia, however, South Australian graduates are offered higher starting salaries than their Victorian counterparts. South Australian graduate wages are some of the fairest in terms of distribution between the genders – a male bachelor-level graduate in South Australia can expect to start on an average salary of $54,000, while female bachelor degree graduates earn an average of $54,500.
GradAustralia surveyed graduates throughout the country and found that the most sought-after employers in South Australia include:
When looking for graduate jobs, keep an eye on new listings on the GradAustralia website, where you’ll find the latest graduate programs, internship and career advice. Sign up for updates on the GradAustralia website.
In addition to signing up for updates from GradAustralia, consider attending a graduate careers fair, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet employers offering graduate programs in South Australia.
The following events provide opportunities to students of all disciplines:
Universities also offer various career events to help you learn more about future job opportunities and employers:
A number of employers in South Australia also offer ‘entry-level’ jobs that are not specifically advertised as ‘graduate’ jobs. Keep an eye out for these on job boards such as SEEK.
If you're set on South Australia but still not sure what you want to do, or if you haven't had any luck locking down a graduate job, you might want to consider:
If you’re not sure that South Australia is the right place for you to find your graduate job, check out ourmoving guide to Adelaide for more insight into the state.