Global firm PA Consulting creating 400 jobs in Belfast

Pictured at the jobs announcement are: Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI CEO; Anita Chandraker, PA Consulting; Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Jiten Kachhela, digital lead of PA Consultancy Group
Gareth McKeown

A GLOBAL consulting firm is to create up to 400 jobs in Belfast as part of a multi-million pound expansion.

PA Consulting, who employs over 2,600 people worldwide, is expanding its digital team in a major Northern Ireland investment.

The 400 roles, almost 40 of which are already in place, are to be created over five years and generate an additional £14.5 million in wages annually, with an average salary of £35,000 a year.

The significant investment, which will see the creation of a global digital engineering centre, has been aided by almost £4m of government support, £3m of which is coming from Invest NI and a further £700,000 for Assured Skills pre-employment skills training by the Department for the Economy. The latter will take the form of a series of Assured Skills academies to provide pre-employment skills training for 155 of the 400 jobs.

The company is currently housed within co-working offices, StepSpace on Chichester Street, but is exploring locations around the city for new larger premises.

Anita Chandraker, global head of innovation services and member of the PA Consulting Board, explained how Belfast was chosen ahead of rivals across the UK and mainland Europe for investment.

"We looked at the UK and Europe to see where we could establish another centre for our digital capability and Belfast really ticked all the boxes," she said.

"What we were looking for was depth and quality of technology talent, what we also found here was really great universities that are quite connected into what businesses want so they are providing the right skills. There's a really vibrant technology cluster here and Invest NI have also provided great support and infrastructure and helped us understand the potential here."

Beyond the five years, Ms Chandraker believes there is scope to further grow the company's Belfast presence.

"We've started with software engineers and I can certainly see potential that we could broaden the types of skills that we are trying to grow here," she added.

Invest NI chief executive, Alastair Hamilton said the latest investment is a further endorsement of Belfast's growing reputation as a digital hub.

“PA has a long track record and world-class expertise in digital innovation and transformation. With offices worldwide and a global innovation and technology centre in Cambridge, the team in Belfast joins an experienced cadre of scientists, engineers, developers and technologists."

Looking ahead, Mr Hamilton confirmed Invest NI currently has a "strong pipeline" of projects and they hope to make further announcements in the near future.

"I would expect that you would see more of these projects coming to a conclusion and we'll be able to announce those probably inside the next, probably weeks and months."

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, who attended yesterday's announcement, hailed it as a "significant boost" for the local economy.

"Northern Ireland continues to punch well above its weight in terms of proving itself as a top destination to invest and do business," she added.

PA, founded 70 years ago, has had a presence in Belfast for 40 years and works across the public and private sector on a variety of contracts. One of the company's first major projects was helping the British war effort during the 1940s to improve productivity in munitions factories, while the global firm also supported the 1987 development of the home pregnancy-testing kit as well as the revamp of the UK passport in 2010

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