Microsoft is set to establish a new cyber security centre in Northern Ireland.
The move, expected to see the creation of 85 new jobs in Belfast, has been welcomed by Economy Minister Diane Dodds.
Her department is funding pre-employment training places in Assured Skills Academies at Belfast Metropolitan College, to help individuals compete for these vacancies.
Mrs Dodds described the move as “exciting and welcome news”, adding it is an “indicator of the strength and vibrancy of the local IT sector, particularly in the field of cyber security”.
The minister said the project came to fruition as a result of a “successful partnership approach between my department, Invest Northern Ireland and Belfast Met”.
“Microsoft is collaborating with my department and the college to develop Assured Skills Academies for participants to upskill and compete for roles in the company’s new Cyber Security Centre.
“I wish Microsoft every success as the company recruits for these new roles and grows its presence in Northern Ireland,” she said.
Kevin Holland, chief executive of Invest NI, said the decision to locate in Belfast is “a vote of confidence for both Northern Ireland and the talented people here”.
“This investment represents a significant boost for the Northern Ireland economy and will provide a range of opportunities for people to train for exciting new hi-tech roles,” he said.
Darren Dillon of Microsoft said the new centre in Northern Ireland will provide support to the company’s largest enterprise customers across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“An added advantage to this project is the focus on upskilling people to give them the opportunity to work in this dynamic area of the technology industry and over time we hope to be able to grow the team that works with us here in Northern Ireland,” he said.
More information on the first Microsoft Assured Skills Academy and details of how to apply are available at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/assured-skills