BT trouble-shooting hub to create 120 jobs in city
Belfast has been chosen by communications giant BT as the location for a crack team of 120 highly-skilled problem solvers to act as a trouble-shooting overspill for the firm's call centres all over the world.
The city is already home to an expert group of software specialists in Northern Ireland helping to develop the latest in TV, internet and entertainment.
The 220-strong BT Innovate and Design team is working on BT Vision 2, due to be launched later this year.
The jobs being created by the new project will contribute £2.9m a year in salaries to the economy.
Recruiting has already begun for the new posts, which will be located in BT's Riverside Tower and will bring staff levels in Northern Ireland to around 2,600, representing £83m in wages per year.
Posts are expected to be filled within six months.
The team will act as a 'pressure valve' for BT's global network, answering calls and queries to take the pressure off other locations
Invest NI contributed funding of £568,000 under its Jobs Fund while the Department for Employment and Learning has offered more than £108,000 of training support under its Assured Skills programme.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said that the facility will be much more than just a call centre.
"Medium wage jobs in Northern Ireland are typically £14-£15,000 per annum, but the medium wage jobs announced at BT will be closer to £22,000 before you look at the management positions," she said.
"People look to India because of costs but they do not factor in the whole cost, like training, retaining, the quality of the people. We have all that already.
"BT enjoys a good relationship with Invest NI which has allowed us to compete with other regions in the UK where BT has a presence."
Colm O'Neill, chief executive at BT Northern Ireland, said that the firm was re-iterating its long-term commitment to the region.
"This is another inward investment from the company to Northern Ireland which recognises the highly skilled workforce we have here," he said.
"This contact centre represents part of our global development and the people we will employ here will be expert multi-skilled people who will be fielding all sorts of calls and be taking the pressure off staff all over the world."
In addition to the significant BT Northern Ireland operation, BT Group will now have four additional centres in Northern Ireland - including a global research and development centre and two digital care centres - employing more than 1000 people.
Recruitment will be managed by BT through telephone interviews as well as an assessment centre. All staff will attend new entrant training of around five weeks' duration. Training will begin in mid-July, and the centre will open in August.