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Momentum eyes 20,000 new jobs in next decade

A TRADE body for the Northern Ireland digital sector is pushing forward on a plan for 20,000 extra jobs over the next decade.

Momentum yesterday hosted Northern Ireland's first Digital Summit, sponsored by Ulster Bank, bringing together six Northern Ireland Executive ministers, six government departments, industry experts, large employers, sole traders, and representatives of universities, schools, and financial institutions.

The event followed on from a manifesto published in January, 'New ideas, New technology, New jobs' which was the product of a six-month consultation 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 more jobs.

The event at the Stormont Hotel, which was chaired by lobbyist Barry Turley, discussed the issues of access to skills, access to funding and access to markets leading to job creation.

During the day, delegates heard from Employment Minister Stephen Farry, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Education Minister John O'Dowd and Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin as well as the First and Deputy First Ministers. John O'Dowd has already agreed to an immediate meeting to discuss Momentum's plans.

Among the proposals are the establishment of a digital innovations fund, a programme of supported visits to international trade shows and conferences, development of the skills supply chain, and a scheme to support digital warehouses or hubs in provincial towns.

Jimmy Corr from global IT consultancy firm Gartner was among the delegates. "It's really important that firms, the government and the education sector all come together to move ideas forward," he said.

"There are plenty of plans and ideas and manifestos out there but everybody has to do their part and make things happen."

Ian Simons, who lectures in ITC at Stranmillis College, said that children need to be brought into the digital world at a young age.

"We need to be targeting pupils younger and help them to avail of all the opportunities," he said.


Number of jobs trade body is predicting over the next decade