Belfast Telegraph

Revolution in Northern Ireland digital sector as US firm creates 50 jobs with £57k salary

By Clare Weir

Get ready for the 'Nyuppie' – the new, young upwardly mobile professional coming to a coffee shop year you.

That is the prediction after 50 high-value jobs with an average salary of £57,000 – more than three times the Northern Ireland private sector average – were announced in Belfast.

The jobs, which will generate £2.8m in salaries over next three years, are being created by IT firm Version 1 in the Gasworks.

Commentators predict the announcement will herald a new breed of digital professionals, which in turn will help revitalise the Northern Ireland economy.

The company said the workers would be providing "frontline IT services" for customers of the cloud-based firm, which include Land & Property Services and the energy firm Firmus.

And restaurant critic Joris Minne said big wages were good for the business landscape.

"Ten years ago, Belfast was thriving, thanks to large expense accounts and people with lots of disposable income," he added.

"That left a popular legacy – eating out remains habitual. Even as we emerge from the financial downturn, there is still an ever-growing restaurant portfolio.

"When people cut back, they still continued to eat out, but when companies like Version 1 set a salary benchmark like this, it will have a beneficial impact on other sectors as well – people will have more money to spend."

John Moore, regional director of Hays Recruitment, said that within the IT sector the demand for staff was "unparalleled".

And he added that with the need for talented staff accelerating much faster than universities could cope with, there was a "war for talent" in the sector, which is good news for potential recruits.

Meanwhile, Michael Noble, the chief executive of IT trade body Momentum, said that there was even more potential for lots more high-earning IT jobs across Northern Ireland.

Earlier this year, Momentum launched a digital action plan in conjunction with the departments of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Employment and Learning, Education, and Culture Arts and Leisure.

The group aims to create 20,000 new jobs in the Northern Ireland digital sector by supporting growth in the local market, encouraging more foreign direct investment and helping universities, schools and further education colleges cope with the increased demand for skilled graduates.

The document proposes that there is a need to bring in the teaching of programming, or 'coding', from the age of eight.

"This announcement proves what Momentum has been saying is possible in Northern Ireland for some time," Mr Noble said. "High-quality, high-paying sustainable jobs in the digital sector here are achievable.

"This announcement should not be a one-off – together, we can achieve lots more, and we are working with the government departments and with Invest NI to make sure that there is potential for plenty more roles like these.

"Version 1 has set the bar high, and hopefully other companies will follow suit."

Belfast Telegraph