Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland jobs plan under fire over low wage levels

Less than half of posts now pay staff the £26k average

By John Mulgrew

Job creation plans in Northern Ireland have been blasted as "paper thin" after it emerged that fewer than one in 10 posts promoted by Invest NI in some locations pay the average wage.

Across Northern Ireland, less than half of the posts which are due to be created here pay staff the median full-time gross earnings of £26,100.

Some 2,328 jobs pay the average wage or more, out of a total of 5,131 jobs 'promoted' by Invest NI in 2015/16 across Northern Ireland.

But several areas across the province performed significantly worse. In Fermanagh and South Tyrone just 9.25% of jobs which are promised for the region pay workers the NI average wage. That's just 90 out of 972.

The biggest single jobs announcement in the area during the year was 800 new call centre jobs for Enniskillen.

But the roles being created by Teleperformance pay an average wage of just £14,700 each year.

Elsewhere, in North Belfast, just one in four paid the average, while it was just one in six in the Upper Bann area.

Sinead Bradley, SDLP MLA and economy spokeswoman, said the figures are "evidence that the job growth boasted by the Executive is paper thin".

She added: "Scratch the surface and we see that the majority of jobs created are low wage. In my own constituency of South Down, less than a third of the jobs promoted receive the average wage.

"In other constituencies the picture is much worse. It exposes the low ambition economy created by the DUP and Sinn Fein and the flaws in their economic strategy built on offering large cash incentives for private companies for next to no commitment."

The best performing areas include East Belfast and East Antrim, with four out of five jobs promoted in the last year paying at least the NI average wage.

A spokeswoman for Invest NI said: "For a well-balanced economy that provides opportunities for all, it is as important that there are jobs at all levels. This is why Invest NI has two strands to its job creation strategy, ensuring its support helps to rebuild the economy following the recession, as well as rebalance private sector employment.

"This means attracting both higher salary roles as well as supporting projects that create opportunities for those returning to work or are new to employment."

And Ms Bradley urged Stormont to publish a manufacturing strategy to "inject life into this ailing sector", after recent major job losses at Bombardier and other leading manufacturers here.

"By creating a competitive offering matched with a highly skilled workforce, ambition can be raised. To date the DUP and Sinn Fein have failed to recognise this correlation," she added.

Belfast Telegraph