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Global publisher adding 200 jobs to Belfast team

By Rachel Martin

International publishing giant Pearson has announced it will create a further 200 jobs in Belfast as part of a global reshuffle - tripling its workforce in Northern Ireland.

The firm, which is one of the largest publishers in the world, said it would create 200 new jobs in the city - on top of the 100 members of staff currently employed there.

Pearson set up a base in Belfast before Christmas, but has now decided to take on at least 300 people in the city.

The investment was supported by £2m in funding, made up of £460,000 from the Department for the Economy's Assured Skills programme and £1.5m from Invest NI.

Pearson is the world's largest educational company with over 35,000 employees based in around 70 countries.

The latest workforce expansion comes after Pearson launched a 'strategic review' of its operations.

As a result of the changes, around 4,000 full-time employees will lose their jobs across the globe.

However, Northern Ireland - a region where Pearson previously had no operations - has come out as one of the winners.

The decision to set up in Belfast was part of the firm's global restructuring to concentrate solely on educational publishing and centralise key functions.

It was initially expected the restructure would cost a further £320m in 2016, but is expected to result in savings of around £350m.

The jobs created in Belfast will be roles spread across accounting, tax and management information departments.

Almost 20 roles have already been advertised including vacancies for financial control analysts, talent acquisition analysts and reporting analysts with global capability.

The publisher would not disclose what the minimum salary would be, but bosses at the firm said all positions would be paid "competitively".

Many of the roles will be suitable for fresh graduates.

Gareth Morgan, senior vice president of transformation and enabling functions at Pearson, said: "We are very grateful for the support Invest NI have given us but the key factor was the availability of the workforce here."

Mr Morgan added that the firm was moving to digitise some of its services in a sector traditionally driven by book sales.

"Belfast is going to become central to our finance transformation strategy so our expectation is that this will become a long-term investment in Northern Ireland," he said.

"We haven't seen any impact with Brexit at this point in time. We are obviously watching the situation but as of now it has had very little impact."

Mr Morgan said that the availability of a skilled workforce drew the firm to Belfast over its nearest EU city, Dublin.

"I think there are many factors but we felt that the main thing for us was the availability of the skilled workforce that we need here," he said.

"We felt that the market in Belfast was the right market for us to be in.

"It's highly competitive for us in terms of the numbers of well-qualified people who are available for this kind of work.

"It's our strategy to standardise and centralise certain activities and so we have chosen Belfast as an area where can successfully achieve that."

Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI chief executive, said: "We're delighted to welcome Pearson to Northern Ireland.

"The addition of this global name to the list of blue chip companies operating here is testament to the quality of our people and the value of our proposition."

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