Wollongong has a white collar problem.
Mining and manufacturing jobs have declined substantially, but those who have forgone their parents' black stained collar for a crisp white one aren't finding it much easier.
About 14,100 white-collar workers commute from Wollongong each day to find better-paid work in their field - more than 62 per cent of commuters. Among these are more than 3,270 who describe themselves as specialist managers, representing 14 per cent of commuters and a significant drain on talent in Wollongong.
Meanwhile, 59 per cent of University of Wollongong graduates leave after their degree.
It's created a "talent ceiling" for white-collar workers who want opportunities.
Illawarra Business Chamber executive director Adam Zarth, who was involved in drafting the economic development strategy, said he was "strongly in favour" of the 10,500 jobs target.reality
"The reality is we're growing low-paid casualised jobs in the Illawarra ... and we're not growing [permanent] jobs in step with population growth in the Illawarra," he said.
"There's a lack of mobility. Anyone who's worked in Wollongong knows there's a lack of mobility when it comes to executive and sought-after jobs.
"We can go in two directions - we can become a stagnant economy - essentially a commuter base to feed greater Sydney - or we as a community can insist we want a discrete economy in Wollongong and in the Illawarra, and we support council and others to take measure to develop it."
Daily 8,291 blue-collar workers commute, just over a third of the total, with tradespeople and machinery operators including drivers the largest groups.