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IT and science jobs will save us from crashing

The recent raft of job announcements in the IT sector would make you think that we all need to retrain as masters of the control/alt/delete buttons. Certainly we seem to be setting ourselves up as a global IT hub and any school students wondering what subjects to take at GSCE, A-Level or at university could do worse than to veer in that direction.

As a self-confessed technophobe, it's been heartening to hear that IT isn't the only area where Northern Ireland is managing to excel, with other sectors of the economy showing an impressive spurt of growth over the last few months.

Take the life sciences industry, one of which has been breaking new ground over the last few years and dragging the economy here with it.

A few months ago US consulting service Pharmalink opened an office here creating 30 jobs and Antrim-based Randox has been growing steadily in the last few years.

Yesterday it was the turn of a stalwart of the industry Almac to announce a further expansion of its Craigavon site which develops and manufactures drugs for global pharmaceutical companies.

It's become such a master of its trade that it's now the go-to manufacturer for many global pharma firms and is taking on over 200 new staff to help it meet demand.

Obviously it wants the high-level scientists that you would expect but it's also looking for staff in its compliance and product management divisions. And, as if by magic, a call came into the business desk as this column was being written from Pharmalink which revealed it's looking for science graduates.

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We must encourage the next generation to head in the direction of industries which are creating jobs. If we can do that then we'll be able to attract more IT and pharma companies and won't have to hit the economic escape button.


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