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Microsoft creating 85 posts at Belfast cyber security hub

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From left: Kevin Holland, CEO of Invest NI, Economy Minister Diane Dodds, and Darren Dillon of Microsoft

From left: Kevin Holland, CEO of Invest NI, Economy Minister Diane Dodds, and Darren Dillon of Microsoft

From left: Kevin Holland, CEO of Invest NI, Economy Minister Diane Dodds, and Darren Dillon of Microsoft

Global technology Microsoft has announced it's creating up to 85 new jobs in Belfast as it opens a new cyber security centre.

Microsoft currently employs 28 staff at its offices in Catalyst in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.

But that workforce will expand to over 110 as a new cyber security centre is established to carry out consulting and technical work for big Microsoft customers across Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds announced the expansion today.

She said that the department was funding places in a skills programme run by Belfast Met which would equip individuals to apply for the 85 jobs.

Other major employers such as business advisory firm Deloitte have also used the Assured Skills Academies to refine potential candidates skills-set before recruitment.

Academies are open to anyone with a 2:2 degree or above in any discipline, or a Level 5 qualification in an IT related subject.

All students who complete the academy will be offered a job interview with Microsoft. The Department for the Economy is giving £800,000 in funding to the Assured Skills Academy training places.

Invest NI has also offered £150,000 of support towards the creation of 25 of the 85 roles. Salaries for the jobs were not available but a department spokesman said they would be "competitive and in line with industry".

Mrs Dodds said the expansion by Microsoft was "exciting and welcome news".

"Not only is it a direct result of the skills and talent available here, but it is also an indicator of the strength and vibrancy of the local IT sector, particularly in the field of cyber security," she said.

The minister added the skills academies ensure that employers had access to skilled people, while also helping people upskill.

"Bringing this project to fruition has been a result of a successful partnership approach between my department, Invest NI and Belfast Met," she said.

"I wish Microsoft every success as the company recruits for these new roles and grows its presence in Northern Ireland."

Darren Dillon, chief technology officer of secure infrastructure at Microsoft, said it was delighted to set up the centre, which he said would provide support to Microsoft's biggest enterprise customers across Europe, Middle East and Africa.

He added: "An added advantage to this project is the focus on upskilling people to give them the opportunity to work in this dynamic area of the technology industry and over time we hope to be able to grow the team that works with us here in Northern Ireland."

Invest NI chief executive Kevin Holland said: "This investment represents a significant boost for the Northern Ireland economy and will provide a range of opportunities for people to train for exciting new hi-tech roles."

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