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Accelerating Regional Employment Program

The program welcomes eligible organisations to submit proposals to support accelerating the growth of regional small and medium South Australian businesses, by ensuring they can access the skilled workforce they need.

The program aims to deliver knowledge to the businesses to ensure they are aware of and able to access labour and skills that are available to them. It also looks to provide support to businesses to identify and overcome obstacles to successful employment of new workers, while also supporting skilled migrants to fill critical skills shortages in regional South Australia.

Funding of up to $170,000 each will be provided on a competitive basis to two pilot programs in regional South Australia. Funding will support pilot programs that commence in 2021-22 and are delivered over one year.

Applications have now closed.

For any enquiries, please contact the Department for Innovation and Skills on 1800 673 097.

Program Guidelines

The objective of the Accelerating Regional Employment Program (Program) is to pilot approaches to accelerating the growth of regional small and medium South Australian businesses by ensuring they can access the skilled workforce they need. The Program will:

  • Ensure businesses are aware of and able to access the range of sources of labour and skills that are available.
  • Support businesses to identify and overcome constraints to successful employment of new workers.
  • Support skilled migrants fill critical skills shortages in regional South Australia.

This will improve productivity of regional businesses and address constraints on growth and investment.

Growth State highlights that a highly skilled and responsive workforce will provide businesses with ready access to the right mix of trained employees needed to drive innovation, improve productivity and take up new opportunities in global markets. Such a workforce also makes South Australia a more desirable investment option and a drawcard for migrants who can provide an injection of skills, talent and ideas into our economy to complement our local skill base.

More than 91 per cent of South Australia’s recent population growth (and 95 per cent of net overseas migration) has settled within the Greater Adelaide region and it is likely that this trend will continue, creating shortages in regional South Australia. It has also been estimated that there will be around 35,000 job openings for regional South Australia over the next five years, with around half of these job openings to be for occupations requiring higher skill levels.

Pilot programs are required to demonstrate how they will achieve the following outcomes:

Essential

  • Regional SMEs report fewer skills shortages, and vacancies are filled more quickly.
  • Regional SMEs can access the skilled international workforce when they need to grow.
  • Regional SMEs have the capability and confidence to sustainably employ an international skilled workforce over the longer term where the local skills, volume and experience are not able to be recruited locally.

Desirable

  • Skilled migrants are employed in jobs that align to their skills and experience.
  • New migrants to permanently settle in the region.

Proposals for delivery of the program will be sought from potential delivery partners with a demonstrable connection to their relevant region who will be invited to submit via a general grant call.

Funding will be provided on a competitive basis to an applicant for each of two pilot programs in regional South Australia. Proposals may focus on program delivery within:

  • a non-metropolitan region with significant, demonstrable skilled workforce shortages;
  • and/or
  • a specific industry sector in one or more non-metropolitan region/s with significant, demonstrable skilled workforce shortages.

Regions and industry sectors are not pre-defined and applicants may nominate their own geographic and/or sectoral coverage.

Programs are to be co-designed and delivered at a local (regional) level. This will ensure a strong understanding of local workforce supply challenges, the active participation of regional employers in the program, and strong connections with relevant existing community and support options. Programs are to be designed with a strong focus on opportunities to extend the benefits, learnings, and outcomes beyond the life of the South Australian Government-funded pilot program.

Programs are to take a case-managed approach to:

  • Identify local businesses with skills needs and job vacancies to participate in the program, with a particular focus on small and medium businesses.
  • Work with skilled migrants and Australian citizens to address constraints to regional workforce participation. Consideration should be given to visa holders in the following Skilled Visa Streams:
    • Employer-sponsored
    • Skilled Independent
    • Regional State/Territory Nominated
    • Skilled Nominated Skilled Work Regional
    • Business Innovation and Investment Program
    • Global Talent
  • Improve skilled migrant and re-locating employees’ connection to the local businesses and community.
  • Work with businesses and regional service providers to address any constraints to employment, leverage available supports and services, improve job market competitiveness and, where appropriate, support the employment of skilled migrants in the region.

Eligible organisations

Applicants must have been in operation for more than one full financial year, and include:

  • Businesses (including not-for-profit organisations)
  • Incorporated associations, including:
    • Industry/business associations and peak bodies
    • Business Enterprise Centres (BECs)
    • Regional Development Australia Boards (RDAs)
  • Local governments (councils) in South Australia
  • Co-operatives.

Eligible expenditure

Applications will not be considered where:

  • retrospective funding is sought;
  • other funding sources are deemed better suited (e.g. funding under existing programs or services in the nominated region and/or for the nominated industry sector); or
  • the applicant has already received a grant from the South Australian Government for the same activity.

Funding of up to $170,000 each will be provided on a competitive basis to two pilot programs in regional South Australia. Funding will support pilot programs that commence in 2021-22 and are delivered over one year.

Matched funding or in-kind support will be considered favourably but is not essential.

Funding will be provided under a grant agreement in a minimum of two tranched payments, subject to project-specific milestones.

Application process

Applications will be assessed by a panel made up of representatives from the Department for Innovation and Skills, against the Assessment Criteria established in the guidelines.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be required to provide, and assessed against their ability to:

  • Identify and respond to specific workforce access, and business capability issues, that impact employment in the nominated non-metropolitan region and/or industry sector in regional South Australia.
  • Demonstrate an element of co-design in proposed program design, based on a deep understanding of industry need and strong local business connections.
  • Undertake one-on-one engagement with businesses to identify and respond to individual business needs, ensuring the workplace is best positioned for a new starter, the range of available supports have been considered, including for skills and training, and the range of labour sourcing options explored.
  • Identify and engage individuals in the target cohort(s).
  • Identify and address the specific barriers to employment, attraction and retention faced by the target cohort(s) in the region.
  • Integrate and leverage existing funding, services and activities as part of the program, where appropriate. These include (but are not limited to):
    • Skilled and Business Migration, Skilling South Australia, JobTrainer and the Department for Innovation and Skills
    • Other South Australian Government agencies, including Primary Industries and Regions SA
    • Migrant Resource Centre
    • Regional Development Australia
    • Australian Government, including the Department for Home Affairs and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment
    • Local Government
    • Other non-Government service providers.
  • Identify and integrate regional/broader strategic objectives focusing on growth in business, employment and/or population.
  • Provide value for money.
  • Identify approaches for continuing the support of employment beyond the funded pilot period, by building on the outcomes of, and demonstrate the lessons from, the funded pilot program, for example (but not limited to) using case studies and tools/templates for ongoing use.
  • Demonstrate the capacity and capability of the provider (and of any third party if applicable) to deliver the program within the region/s, including relevant previous experience and program delivery personnel, and achieve the outcomes committed to in the proposal.
  • Effectively promote and communicate the program, including leveraging existing communication channels, and engage participants.

The assessment panel may also consider other aspects of the proposal it regards as relevant when assessing applications and may request additional information if required to undertake the assessment.

Contracting requirements

To access funding, successful applicants from eligible organisations will be required to sign an agreement in the form of a formal written contract with the South Australian Government which stipulates the obligations of the applicant and the conditions under which assistance is given. No approval of an application, nor any notification to an applicant that their application is successful, nor any invitation to negotiate will be effective to constitute a contract or to create any legitimate expectation unless the agreement is executed by both parties. Information received in connection with a proposal may be used and communicated outside the Government of South Australia for due diligence, monitoring, reporting and evaluation purposes.

Successful applicants must execute a grant agreement with the Government of South Australia within six weeks of approval of the application, or the offer will lapse.

The applicant will be required to repay the funding where there is breach of the agreement.

Monitoring and reporting

Successful applicants will be required to report on the program’s progress and performance quarterly, including against consistent KPIs across all pilot programs. These will include:

  • Number of businesses participating in the program, with preference given to small and medium businesses (0-199 FTE). It is expected applicants will case manage at least 25 businesses during the pilot.
  • Workforce and business outcomes for businesses participating in the program including additional employment, export and/or turnover growth and position vacancy rates.
  • Employment outcomes achieved by participants, including original location of new employees, employment at higher skills levels, and full-time or part-time status of employees hired. It is expected at least 25 regional skilled job vacancies will be filled.
  • Improved business capability for employing by the participating businesses.
  • Any agreed, project-specific milestones.

In addition, successful applicants will be required to report on regional outcomes, including number of new employees still employed, and new migrants still in the region after 6 and 12 months.

Successful applicants will be required to provide a final report at the completion of the pilot program, including the outcomes achieved, activities undertaken, total expenditure, lessons learned, and the case studies, other materials and/or approaches developed for continuing the support for regional employment beyond the funded pilot period.

Applicants will be required under the agreement to provide a perpetual, fee free, non-exclusive, irrevocable licence to any intellectual property rights in the tools, templates and materials developed for the program for use by the public or other government agencies.

Project details, estimated and actual economic outcomes, case studies, tools, templates and other materials relating to the identified approaches for continuing the support of employment beyond the funded pilot period, and the amount of funding will be made public, subject to the Government’s consideration of any commercial and public interest factors.

The below is provided as guidance only for applicants about how the design of their pilot program may support the objectives of the Program. There is no expectation that program design necessarily includes any of the illustrative examples below.

One of the critical assessment criteria is the ability of the project to respond to specific regional business needs. The examples below may not be relevant for all regions.

Applicants may wish to consider whether their proposals will offer:

  • Support to employers in employing skilled migrants, for example navigating migration processes, managing expectations and building cultural awareness.
  • Support to employers in employing local or interstate unemployed people, for example managing expectations, talent attraction and mentoring.
  • Support to employers for identifying skill and job needs and navigating the range of employee sources and processes.
  • Mentoring for employers and/or employees, as migrants and new employees move through the application and job commencement process, as well as settle into the community.
  • Support to skilled migrants with local coordination of settlement services and referral to services that can assist with accommodation/housing options, schools, obtaining a driver’s licence etc.
  • Sustainable outcomes for regional businesses in South Australia post-funding period.

The Department for Innovation and Skills (Department) reserves the right to amend these guidelines and application terms as required.

Decisions on all matters relating to the awarding of grant funding under this program is at the absolute discretion of the Minister for Innovation and Skills (Minister) and/or the Department for Innovation and Skills. This includes the right not to award any grant funding or to only award one grant if the Minister and/or Department deems appropriate.

Information received in connection with a proposal/application may be used and communicated outside the Government of South Australia for due diligence, monitoring, reporting and evaluation purposes.

Any information contained in, or relating to, a proposal/application, including information identified by an applicant as confidential information for the purposes of applying for funding may be disclosed by the Department:

  • to employees, advisers or third parties in order to manage the program (including but not limited to, for the purposes of evaluating and assessing the application);
  • within the Government of South Australia where this serves the legitimate interest of the Department;
  • in response to a request by a House or Committee of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia or South Australia;
  • where information is authorised or required by law to be disclosed; and
  • where the information is already in the public domain.

Applications have now closed.