Meet the Makers: Hands-On Jobs in South Australia

16 May 2024

There’s a special kind of satisfaction that comes from a job where you create something tangible, something you can point to with pride and say, “I made that.” 

In South Australia, this sense of fulfilment is not just a possibility but a thriving reality, with a range of hands-on careers that offer a break from the typical desk-bound job.

From working with tools to honing your craft, let’s explore four industries in South Australia that are on the lookout for new talent and fresh ideas.


Maritime Construction

South Australia has established itself as Australia’s maritime capital, and with seven of the world’s top 10 defence companies now calling South Australia home, it looks like the industry will only continue to grow. 

South Australia is leading a number of significant projects to strengthen the country’s naval capability. This includes the construction of a new fleet of Hunter-class frigates and nuclear-powered submarines at the state-of-the-art Osborne Naval Shipyard, as well as other projects like the Life of Type Extension for the Collins-class submarines and the upgrade of the Air Warfare Destroyer combat management system projects.

These projects require a diverse range of specialist staff, from project management and systems engineers to Information Technology and cyber security specialists, as well as essential trades like welders and electricians.

To support job seekers, the Find Your Place SA website aims to connect qualified staff with opportunities for scholarships, graduate programs and relocation support.



South Australia is the beating heart of Australia’s wine industry, where vineyards sprawl across 18 vibrant regions, crafting nearly 80 percent of the nation’s premium wine.

Renowned areas like the Barossa, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, and Langhorne Creek contribute to this thriving industry, supported by the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus, which leads 70 percent of Australian wine research. 

When combined with businesses who support the industry, including bottling, technology and tourism, thousands of people currently work in wine in South Australia through hands-on and engaging roles. 

With multiple regions often in close proximity, job seekers have increased potential job opportunities available without having to relocate a significant distance. For an aspiring winemaker or cellar hand living in the Adelaide Hills, for example, the Clare Valley, Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale are all within an hour’s drive.  


Creative Industries

South Australia is home to a flourishing arts community that offers opportunities for those looking to make something with meaning. 

The heart of the community sits in Adelaide’s West End, where the larger arts institutions, galleries, creative spaces and music venues call home. Music Producer Luke Million, whose international hits Arnold and Stranger Things theme remix were crafted from his Adelaide home, said it was the collaborative nature of the South Australian arts scene which set it apart. 

“I’ve mentored people from time to time and run master classes. It just seems like everyone here is giving each other a leg up to get to the next level,” Luke said. 

“You don’t have to look too far and you’ll see someone doing amazing things.”

“Every venue, you’ll find people performing and there are a lot of really cool little bars where you get your up and coming producers.

“Right now, the whole city is alive.”

Adelaide is also home to the nation’s first and longest-running state screen agency, the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC). Freelance directors, sound technicians, film editors, make-up artists and production managers are now in regular demand, with more opportunities every year. 


Building Construction

It may include some of the world’s oldest trades, but construction is a dynamic and rapidly changing industry with the power to shape the skyline and landscape of cities, and South Australia has plenty of possibilities on offer.

Despite recent fluctuations, South Australia’s construction industry continues to thrive, with a growing demand for skilled trades. Master Builders SA projects that an additional 31,149 workers, including 14,685 tradespeople, will be required by November 2026 to fulfil the industry demand. 

Bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, and labourers are just a handful of the high-demand trades across residential and commercial builds. 

Recruiter Andrew Sullivan of SULLIVAN Consulting has identified the industry as one of the fastest growing in the state with a widening gap between supply and demand for qualified workers.

“Just take a glance at the city skyline to see the number of cranes in operation,” Sullivan said.

“If you talk to apprenticeship training organisations or industry bodies, all of their members are calling out for bricklayers, plasterers, sparkies, plumbers, surveyors… everyone’s in demand.”