A group of five Dean's Scholar students has taken out iAccelerate's #Act4SDGs Challenge Pitch Final with a three prong approach to creating full employment for Wollongong.
The name of the winning team was Full Employment and it was made up of students doing arts, commerce, finance, engineering, computer science and science.
Isabella Todd said her team's solution to rising unemployment rates came after Green Connect challenged them to try and find a full employment solution.
They started by thinking about why there are not enough jobs in the region and decided the best solution was to create a new industry.
"We focused on industries that have employment across skill levels," Ms Todd said.
The team was aware of how the knowledge sector is creating more jobs. But the five students wanted to find an industry that could create more opportunities for people with skills from traditional industries as well as employment for people with no skills.
"We looked at sustainable infrastructure, building new sustainable buildings and retro-fitting houses," Ms Todd said.
The Desert Rose Project and Panorama Prebuilt initiative at UOW and iAccelerate respectively show what can be done. And the students realised starting a retro-fitting industry in the Illawarra would be able to provide job opportunities in many skill areas.
But that wasn't there only idea. Aware of a waste management crisis in Australia at the moment the team looked at waste management as a big industry that is largely untapped.
"We thought why can't Wollongong be the centre for waste management in Australia. Waste composting and recycling creates more jobs than landfill export. And there is also an opportunity for manufacturing from recycled materials".
Full Employment's third suggestion was inspired by Green Connect and its general manager Kylie Flament who set the challenge.
"There are so many amazing community gardens around Wollongong and there have been urban greening plans in council for years and years. But while it has been talked about often it has never really been implemented on a big scale. We thought there could be an amazing opportunity to green the city, create better spaces and also do it in a sustainable way that is also making food. We could have community gardens throughout the city. What an amazing thing that would be".
Ms Todd, Mai Dang, Shad Rahman, Van Vo and Xavier Harvey wanted to focus on sectors that will not only create jobs across skill levels but improve quality of life and reduce the cost of living.
She said it was an interesting exercise because the team members had never met before and who were from different disciplines and cultural backgrounds.
They met every week for five weeks to come up with a full employment solution and pitch it.
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