Building jobs bonanza as Queen University Belfast work gets under way
The construction and civil engineering sector has received a boost from up to 600 new jobs - including 50 new apprenticeships.
Queen's University will today unveil the foundation stone of its new £39m biological sciences school in south Belfast.
It said the project would support 550 jobs in the construction sector, including staff from chief contractor O'Hare and McGovern, based in Newry.
Queen's University said the build at Chlorine Gardens off Stranmillis Road would be key to the future of the agri-food and life sciences sectors here, which currently employ more than 80,000 people here.
The building will be finished in 2018, Queen's president and vice-chancellor Patrick Johnston said. And he said the school would be a "powerhouse" for life sciences and agri-food. He said: "From food safety to disease and infection control, the work housed in our new school will not only be of global significance and importance, it will also impact positively on everyone's lives here in Northern Ireland."
Professor Chris Elliott, pro vice chancellor of the faculty of medicine, health and life sciences, said staff at the new centre would explore new approahces to waste and ecosystem management, as well as how to improve control of infectious diseases.
It would also focus on addressing the challenges of climate change, he said. The new school is the latest building in Queen's 20-year £700m capital investment programme. It marks the ninth project carried out by O'Hare and McGovern for Queen's since 1989.
It will be working on the project with architecture firm Scott Tallon Walker. O'Hare and McGovern managing director Eamon O'Hare said: "Our vision for the delivery of this project is to create a catalyst for social, economic and environmental change, providing sustainable employment for local businesses, students, apprentices and long term unemployed."
O'Hare and McGovern recently finished work on the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine for Queen's on Lisburn Road in south Belfast.
Meanwhile, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has announced 50 new civil engineering apprenticeships.
The posts are on offer through the Work + programme with The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). Apprentices will attend college on a day release basis for two years, while working full-time for their employer.
All six of Northern Ireland's further education colleges are taking part, and companies are offering up to 50 apprenticeship places.
Around 20 companies are taking part, including Farrans, Graham Construction, Lagan Construction and Creagh Concrete.
The Minister said: "This new apprenticeship scheme will allow apprentices to work and gain qualifications, experience and broader transferable skills."