Belfast Telegraph

Technology body plans 20,000 new jobs

University fees need lowered for future, says group

By Clare Weir

A body representing the IT and technology sector in Northern |Ireland is proposing reduced university fees for certain courses as part of a plan to create 20,000 new jobs within five years.

Momentum’s new manifesto document “New ideas, New technology, New jobs” is the product of a six-month consultation across the sector analysing the current barriers to growth.

There are around 16,000 people employed in the IT and telecoms industry and another 12,000 working in IT or telecoms occupations in other industries.

But Momentum has said there is potential to create 20,000 jobs.

The body is calling on the Executive to bring together the main stakeholders in the sector, including representatives from the |departments for Employment and Learning, Enterprise Trade and Investment and Education, as well as Invest NI and other relevant bodies, to hold a Digital Summit in the spring of 2013, leading to the setting up of a Digital Strategy Board.

Contributors to the manifesto include CBI Northern Ireland, which represents around one third of the private sector workforce and more than 60% of the largest employers in Northern Ireland, the University of Ulster and many leading IT firms. Nigel Smyth, director of the CBI in Northern Ireland, said that the sector provides the most |significant opportunities for jobs here.

“We need to raise awareness of the exciting opportunities which exist within this diverse industry to the wider community, and |ensure we align our education and training system with this |potential,” he said.

Ian Graham, chief executive of Momentum, said that Northern Ireland innovators need to turn good ideas into global businesses and that the region needs to |attract more international |companies to establish high value operations here.

“Our neighbours and |competitors have plans in place and are reaping the benefits of global digital sector growth,” he said.

“We need to be ready to match and exceed their ideas and |innovations, and we are capable of doing so.”

Background

What’s proposed in the manifesto?

  • Work with higher and further education sectors to at least double the number of skilled people coming out of colleges
  • Develop IT education in primary and secondary school
  • Reach out to parents to encourage them to see jobs in the digital sector as a good career choice for their children
  • Reduce university fees for certain courses in digital subjects
  • Develop more trade missions and communicate value of such export initiatives to the sector
  • Work with banks and private institutions to develop more access to funding, especially at early stages

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