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Recruiting Belfast's past back to the future



Justin Rush

Justin Rush

Justin Rush

The phenomenon of the Irish diaspora has been recorded since the middle ages with millions of people leaving this island for new lives in Great Britain and America.

This migration continued in modern times as Northern Ireland lost some of its most brilliant minds as a result of economics, social conditions and the Troubles.

We gave the world incredible innovators such as John Stephenson from Armagh who designed the first omnibus and streetcar, Bangor’s William Reid Clanny who developed the first miner’s safety lamp and William Mulholland from Belfast, designer of the 200-mile Los Angeles Aqueduct.

But now Northern Ireland has emerged from conflict and with a functioning Government back at Stormont there is a spring in our step as we look to the new decade and beyond with confidence.

The creation of jobs is one of the strongest areas of improvement in Belfast over the last 12 months according to the latest Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities 2019 index, a clear reason to consider the city as a worthwhile career investment. One would foresee, due to the revived commitment from Stormont’s new strategy, that this will only grow from strength to strength.

Residents here welcome new visitors, earning Belfast the title of ‘UK’s most friendly city’ and one of Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in the World Must-See’ places.

The city also wants to welcome home professionals who left to work or study overseas.

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BelfastforLife, an Abacus Talent Group initiative, has been created to help bring the Northern Ireland diaspora community home and is planning an unmissable weekend in Belfast (March 6-9) to showcase a bright new city which has become an exciting place to live, work and socialise.

The Expo is supported by Belfast City Council, NI Connections, Visit Belfast and a number of prestigious Belfast-based companies.

Over 100 selected participants will meet employers, attend networking events, enjoy formal and informal dinners, seminars and more. They will also get a taste of Belfast’s social scene, all at no cost.

Belfast is a different city to the one many people left behind — now it is vibrant, modern and thriving and home to many leading companies, keen to attract the best talent available.

But how do living costs compare to the major cities of London and Dublin? Renters will need around £2,666.19 in Belfast to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with £4,283.78 in Dublin and around £4,632.36 in London (Source: Numbeo).

Rent prices in Belfast are 59.48% lower than Dublin and London rent is 179.69% higher than in Belfast.

Over the past five years we have continued to see healthy growth in new company registrations reflecting a thriving business community and a supportive environment for new businesses to start up and grow.

During 2018-2019, Incorporations increased by 8.4% in England and Wales and 7.9% in Scotland.

Northern Ireland saw the highest percentage increase of 14.3%. (Companies register activities, 2018 to 2019, Companies House).

A particular focus has been on the technology industry. According to a 2019 Tech Nation report, Belfast’s thriving digital tech sector employs more than 60,000 people, which equates to a fifth of the city’s workforce. In 2018 there were 16,853 jobs advertised for tech roles in Belfast.

Roles such as software engineers, technical consultants, java developers and support engineers are a regular feature on many job boards, and a particular focus in recent months has been to grow the emerging ‘Fintech’ sector within Northern Ireland.

According to Belfast City Council, other high growth sectors expected up to 2026 include a 41% rise in professional, scientific and technical sectors and an 18% rise in finance and insurance.

The BelfastforLife Expo is open to anyone considering moving to Belfast now or in the future. Applications close on January 31, 2020. Successful candidates will be contacted the week commencing February 2, 2020.

Justin Rush is founder of BelfastforLife and Director of Abacus.

To find out more about the

BelfastforLife Expo 2020

and to register, please visit