EY creation of 500 jobs 'more proof of recovery'
Plans by business advisers EY to recruit nearly 500 professionals for their Belfast office is evidence that the economic recovery is strengthening, a professional accountants' body said.
EY, formerly known as Ernst & Young, said the jobs would be created over the next four years at a new business unit offering advisory and assurance services to clients outside the province.
By year four, the posts are expected to be contributing £19m to the Northern Ireland economy, equating to an average wage of nearly £40,000.
Some of the new staff will work entirely from the Belfast office, while others will travel as far as the Middle East to look after international clients.
Invest NI is offering £3.2m to support the jobs plan – support which EY said had played a "crucial role" in its decision to locate the jobs in Belfast.
The firm said the Belfast expansion would help the firm both increase market share and deliver a "quality, cost-effective" service to its customers.
But Ireland managing partner Mike McKerr said it was not Northern Ireland's reputation as a low-cost base which had swayed the firm's global bosses to base the expansion here.
Instead, he said the firm was persuaded to invest further in Northern Ireland after taking part in the investment conference in October and hearing glowing testimonials of the talent of Northern Ireland workers from other big-spending foreign direct investors.
"Almost all of them have really good experience and have found a broader talent pool than they expected," he said.
"They have found an ability to retain staff that they haven't had in other locations."
He said the structure of the staff in the new centre would be "vertical" so that every range of experience – from graduate to seasoned adviser, and even a small number of school-leavers – would be included. That was in contrast to low-cost bases where lower-level staff were concentrated in one location, he said.
Paul Henry, chairman of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society, said: "The EY announcement is very welcome and shows that recovery is strengthening."
The announcement meant even more opportunities for graduates, he said.
"Announcements such as those from EY underline the opportunities chartered accountancy can bring and we hope it will encourage more young people to consider it as a career," he said