Belfast Telegraph

Publisher hopes new book on local business success stories will help put the plug in NI's brain drain

By Laurence White

The publisher of a book on Northern Ireland's most successful companies has told how he hopes it will help stop young talents leaving the region.

Dr Claude Costecalde is planning to put copies of his Excellence in Northern Ireland, which is published today, in all second-level schools across the region as an aid to careers and business studies teachers.

"Already a number of companies are sponsoring this initiative, but I hope that more will join in," he said.

"I want the book in every school to show pupils that they can stay in Northern Ireland, that it is not necessary to leave Northern Ireland to get a good education, that it is not necessary to leave Northern Ireland to be successful, and that even if they do go abroad initially, they should come back and help boost the local economy."

Excellence in Northern Ireland, Business at Work documents the performance of some 80 companies, the two universities and organisations including Invest NI.

"The companies in this book, which includes the Belfast Telegraph, are essentially role models for young people growing up in the province today.

"They can see how locally based companies have grown over time to become internationally known brands.

"Take, for instance, Uni Baggage. It is a company that transports bulky goods for students studying overseas.

"It was started in a halls of residence by a university student looking for an economic way to getting his belongings from Belfast to Edinburgh."

Dr Costecalde was also keen to point out that business success was not restricted to academic high-fliers.

"We have some tremendous companies, like Mivan and MJM, which do high-class fit-out work around the world.

"They need highly skilled workforces and often cannot find those skills in Northern Ireland, so they have to hire workers from overseas.

"These are very good jobs that are going begging here on occasion because we are not producing people with the correct skill sets or because parents don't realise that trades can be as lucrative as professions.

"Many of the companies in this publication are headed by people with the vision to think outside the box. Unfortunately, too many people have tunnel vision and are inward-looking.

"That is a shame because Northern Ireland is already an island on the fringe of Europe, and unless it looks outward it will be denying itself opportunities to do business and boost the economy."

The book is the first in a series that will also include publications on businesses in the Republic of Ireland and various cities along the eastern seaboard of the US.

Excellence in Northern Ireland, Business at Work is published by Cadolux Ltd and Editions du Signe, and is priced at £70

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