Belfast Telegraph

Jobs boost could stem brain drain

By Heather McGarrigle

The creation of 247 new top-salary jobs in Belfast could help to stem Northern Ireland's "brain drain".

Global business advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) yesterday announced it had invested over £20m in developing three centres of excellence in Belfast, with £1.765m of Invest NI support.

The largest will be a technology centre, alongside a capability and training centre and international survey unit.

The expansion is set to create 247 graduate level and experienced consultancy positions over the next three years, generating £8m a year in additional salaries.

Intensive training programmes are already under way for new recruits at the company's Belfast headquarters at Waterfront Plaza.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster met a group of technology trainees at the offices yesterday, congratulating them that they were "part of something new" at PwC.

She said the investment represented a "significant vote of confidence by the company in its Northern Ireland operation and in the calibre of graduates and experienced professionals available here".

Ms Foster revealed the new jobs would offer salaries "significantly higher" than the private sector average and would boost the economy by generating £8m a year in additional salaries by 2014.

Following jobs boosts from other high-profile companies this year, such as financial company Citigroup and legal firms Allen and Overy and Herbert Smith, the minister expressed the hope that the professional services industry would continue to invest in Northern Ireland.

"There has been a brain drain in Northern Ireland, with highly talented young people being forced to look elsewhere because the job opportunities just haven't been here.

"Now we're seeing companies like PwC recognising that it makes sense to come to Belfast and bring the local graduates in.

"It's a very innovative way of exporting - when most people think of exports, they think of manufacturing or agri-food. Here, we're exporting our talent."

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