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Northern Ireland IT sector predicted to create 20,000 new jobs

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19/3/13: Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry pictured with (left) Rob McConnell, Chair of Momentum and (right) Dr Clare Passmore, Clear Spirit Design at the first Apprenticeship and Youth Training Review Panel meeting held at Parliament Buildings. Picture: Michael Cooper

PRESS RELEASE IMAGE NO FEE FOR REPRODUCTION 19/3/13: Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry pictured with (left) Rob McConnell, Chair of Momentum and (right) Dr Clare Passmore, Clear Spirit Design at the first Apprenticeship and Youth Training Review Panel meeting held at Parliament Buildings. Picture: Michael Cooper

PRESS RELEASE IMAGE NO FEE FOR REPRODUCTION 19/3/13: Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry pictured with (left) Rob McConnell, Chair of Momentum and (right) Dr Clare Passmore, Clear Spirit Design at the first Apprenticeship and Youth Training Review Panel meeting held at Parliament Buildings. Picture: Michael Cooper

There are 1,000 unfilled posts in the IT sector in Northern Ireland, an industry body has said.

Rob McConnell, the chairman of Momentum, said the sector presented a major opportunity for job creation.

He cited the recent examples of business advisers Deloitte, which will take on 177 new staff for its Belfast technology studio, and Allstate, which is recruiting 650 IT workers in Belfast, Strabane and Londonderry over the next three years.

Mr McConnell spoke as Momentum announced that it will hold a digital summit on September 25. The event will discuss issues affecting the industry such as access to skills, access to funding and access to markets, and how the sector can fulfil its promise of creating 20,000 new jobs in the next five to 10 years.

Mr McConnell said: "We're delighted to announce that our digital summit will take place in September, and to say with real confidence that our prediction of how we can create 20,000 jobs in this sector within five to 10 years is no idle suggestion.

"The recent fantastic announcements from Deloitte and Allstate show what can be achieved, but what we are talking about here is a step change in Northern Ireland's ability to cope with, and benefit from, the massive opportunity which exists to create substantial new employment in the sector.

"The fact there are over 1,000 unfilled posts in Northern Ireland right now shows that while there's great work going on within and across government, we have some way to go yet."

Employment Minister Stephen Farry is to attend the event, which is also supported by Queen's University, the University of Ulster and Belfast Metropolitan College.

Mr Farry said: "The ICT sector is crucial to our local economy. It is the driving force of a globally competitive economy, underpinning innovation, competitiveness and long term prosperity.

"I am committed to supporting the sector and to developing the skilled workforce that the sector needs to grow and flourish."

He said DEL had worked with other departments and employers in IT to agree an ICT action plan which would address the skills needs of the IT sector.

Already some of the aims of the action plan had been achieved, including the launch of an apprenticeship pilot for the IT industry, as well as the launch of an MSc in computing, aimed at non-ICT graduates.

Belfast Telegraph