Belfast Telegraph

Fintech envoy – take action to tackle NI brain drain

A third of university students have to go to England, Wales or Scotland because not enough places are available locally, Andrew Jenkins said.

Northern Ireland’s new fintech envoy Andrew Jenkins (centre) has called for action to help tackle the university brain drain (City of London/PA)
Northern Ireland’s new fintech envoy Andrew Jenkins (centre) has called for action to help tackle the university brain drain (City of London/PA)

By Michael McHugh, PA

Northern Ireland’s new fintech envoy has called for action to help tackle the university brain drain.

Local companies have been urged to reach out globally for business and build connections on international trade missions, but there remains a serious skills shortage.

A third of university students have to go to England, Wales or Scotland because not enough places are available locally, Andrew Jenkins said.

He said foreign direct investment had seen a surge after the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement but there remained a skills shortage.

We need some more joined up thinking Andrew Jenkins

He said: “There is no shortage of talent but we have a skills supply problem.

“Every year around a third of our graduates leave Northern Ireland to go to England, Scotland and Wales, so we are exporting talent on a yearly basis.”

He said there were not enough university places.

“We need some more joined up thinking,” he added.

The Lord Mayor of the City of London, William Russell, was in Northern Ireland this weekend encouraging local firms to collaborate in international trade missions to help attract venture capital in areas like fintech.

Northern Ireland has regional specialities like cyber-security which he said could hold lessons for London and other parts of the UK.

He said: “What the mayoralty has is soft convening power, you become the conduit.

“You can open doors for businesses when a lot of the time they may not get into some of the meetings.

“It is collaborative. What London can do is help grow the total fintech pie in these regional cities.”

It is a bit of a call to action William Russell

He said the development of fintech presented an exciting opportunity.

He added: “It is such a big area for the UK, over 75,000 jobs created in this space – we have a very good story to tell.”

After the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, foreign companies with funds to invest started to show a keen interest in Northern Ireland, Mr Jenkins said.

The US insurance giant Allstate was the first company into Northern Ireland, with a plan to create 50 jobs.

Government jobs creation agency Invest NI has spent large sums of start-up cash enticing companies to invest in the region.

Now around 36,000 people are employed in financial services in Northern Ireland.

Mr Jenkins added: “It has been quite a success story over those years.”

PA

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