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400 new digital consulting jobs a welcome boost to the economy

The announcement of 400 new jobs by PA Consulting yesterday can be seen as a vote of confidence in the Northern Ireland workforce and a positive reflection of our education system which is providing the skills sought by the technology sector.

The decision to open a digital development centre in Belfast offering jobs which are expected to pay an average of £35,000 a year, is a tremendous boost to the local economy and comes in spite of the fact that the Stormont administration has been in limbo for a year and a half.

This firm is a leading global innovation and transformation consultancy with over 2,600 specialists worldwide in the areas of software engineering, data analytics and security.

According to Anita Chandraker, global head of innovation services, the business thought long and hard about where the best place was for their next phase of expansion and considered factors such as the talent pool, the current technology sector, salaries, education, universities and infrastructure.

These factors, combined with the offer of government support, made Northern Ireland 'the logical choice.'

There is no doubt the financial support - nearly £4 million - is substantial but secretary of state Karen Bradley has pointed to the £14.5 million in wages that will be generated annually once the project is fully established.

The Department for the Economy will also be running skills academies for 155 of the 400 jobs.

This type of programme is particularly valuable to employers as it provides candidates with training specifically tailored to the positions available.

There is no doubt that Northern Ireland has a lot to offer global companies in the digital sector and we have also seen legal and financial companies expanding and recruiting.

This is clearly great news for young people, particularly graduates in these in-demand fields.

High employment rates and well-paid jobs benefit the entire economy.

It is just a pity we don't have a fully functioning government in place to capitalise on the investment opportunities that are currently available.

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