Belfast Telegraph

Graduate 'brain drain' warning over economy

By Margaret Canning

A senior accountant has said progress in Northern Ireland's economy could be undermined by a 'brain drain' of newly-qualified graduates.

Brian McGuire of the Ulster network of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) said the economy was growing.

But he said there were challenges ahead – and that education and business leaders were concerned about the numbers of young people choosing not to work in the province.

"There is a lot to be gained going to other regions and countries in terms of building knowledge and skills, but this expertise and best practice needs to be brought back to the Northern Ireland economy," Mr McGuire said.

He quoted figures from the Department for Employment and Learning that most Northern Ireland graduates choose not to return to the province after studying in England, Scotland or Wales.

"With economic prospects improving there is no doubt there are new opportunities being created for Northern Ireland's talented workforce," he said.

Recent job announcements in accountancy and professional services included 486 highly skilled jobs to be created by EY.

But Mr McGuire added: "It begs the question; are we doing enough to support our highly skilled and dynamic workforce to ensure that they avail of the prospects that exist here?

"Today's young people are very aware of the career opportunities outside of Northern Ireland, but many are unaware of what is already on offer right on their door step."

He cited research by Lucid Talk – carried out on behalf of the Belfast Telegraph – in which 67% of people stated that they don't believe their future is in Northern Ireland.

But Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said business leaders should not be concerned about a "brain drain" but should instead celebrate the "brain gain" provided by workers form overseas who contribute to the economy.

"For economies to prosper, you need a diverse workforce which is more entrepreneurial and outward-focused," he said.

Belfast Telegraph