Geelong is a city in transition. The city was hard hit by the decline in manufacturing and closure of iconic factories and large employers, such as the Ford Australia manufacturing plant and Alcoa’s Point Henry smelter. While change has been painful, Geelong is steadily carving out a brighter future, creating new jobs and growth in areas of existing strengths such as engineering, design and materials science, a legacy of its manufacturing base, and in emerging strengths such as information and communications technology and health care.
A central plank in this rebuild strategy was the creation of the Geelong Future Economy Precinct at Deakin University, which aims to better connect education and research with industry, and ensure students have job-ready skills, whether they are setting out on their first career or undertaking a career change.
In five years the precinct has created over 1000 jobs, which include skilled roles in advanced manufacturing in globally competitive companies, such as Carbon Nexus, LeMond Composites and Carbon Revolution, which have eased the impact of Geelong’s manufacturing transition. To ensure local workers had the right skills for these new jobs, the precinct works with the close-knit education providers in the Geelong region to provide retraining opportunities for people disrupted by Geelong’s changing industrial landscape.
When Evan Llewellyn’s job at Alcoa ended after 16 years, he moved to Carbon Nexus as a technical operator. For Evan, the change resulted in a better job with more variety and problem-solving challenges.
These initiatives are already making a difference to Geelong. By December 2016, the city’s unemployment rate was down to 5.9 per cent – close to the national average, and 21,500 jobs had been created in two years.