A Labor government would work with the University of Wollongong to create more highly-skilled workers in the manufacturing industry.
That's the pledge from Cunningham MP Sharon Bird and Whitlam MP Stephen Jones who announced Labor, if elected on May 18, would invest $10 million to further expand the capability of the Facility for Intelligent Fabrication and $1 million to establish a 3D BioPrinting Facility at the university.
The Facility for Intelligent Fabrication is a collaboration between UOW, TAFE NSW and Weld Australia which launched in March 2018.
The unique facility was designed to assist businesses to identify and implement welding and automation-related technology which is backed up by education, training and certification.
Ms Bird and Mr Jones said a Labor government was committed to investing in innovation and transforming the manufacturing industry, especially in the Illawarra.
"We want to ensure we have a foothold in the traditional strengths of the Illawarra which is steelmaking and engineering," Mr Jones said.
"We know that everything from the manufacture and fabrication of steel has to leap forward into robotics and high tech.
"The collaboration of the University of Wollongong together with TAFE and Weld Australia will ensure our traditional strengths in steel manufacturing are taken to a new level.
"We are always on the lookout when the university has projects that will create jobs locally," Ms Bird said.
UOW's executive dean of the faculty of engineering and information sciences, Valerie Linton said the work the facility was doing, and if it expanded, would take workers out of manufacturing jobs that had safety risks and would create jobs with a higher level of technology which would make the industry safer, more competitive and productive.
"Once you can be competitive then you can start to create new jobs and grow businesses and we can stop seeing a move overseas to low-cost manufacturing countries," she said.
"What keeps us in the game is that we have people with the programming, designing and engineering skills to drive one of the robotics," Mr Jones added.
The 3D BioPrinting Facility will help develop bio-inks and customise bio printers for medical application, which is a new manufacturing opportunity for the Illawarra and builds on existing manufacturing skills.