TELECOMS giant BT is responsible for generating £1 in every £65 produced in the Northern Ireland economy, contributing £592 million in value annually, according to an independent report.
And the study by consultancy firm Hatch Regeneris estimates that the equivalent of 6,980 full-time jobs in the north are supported through BT’s direct employment, its spending with contractors and suppliers, and the spending of its employees.
BT Group directly employs 2,650 people in Northern Ireland, with a further 579 employed as contractors, according to the report.
This is equivalent to one in every 10 employees working in the region's IT and communications sectors.
The group also spent nearly £154 million with local suppliers.
The report - which includes the contribution of all parts of BT Group including Openreach, mobile network provider EE and BT’s consumer and enterprise divisions, has been welcomed by the CBI.
It's regional director Angela McGowan said: “This research demonstrates the extent to which BT continues to have a massive impact on our local economy and jobs. It’s great to see this significant presence in Northern Ireland.
“BT’s investment in the area not only means a boost to our economy, but also to skills and high quality jobs, including recruiting apprentices and graduates.
“The company’s investment in the fastest networks and latest technology is also vital for the region as well as the fact that they are a large purchaser for local supply chains. BT’s success is based on smart investments in both technology and people.”
In the UK as a whole, BT Group directly employed 94,800 people and supported 290,000 full-time jobs, generating £22.8 billion to the economy.
Tim Fanning, director at Hatch Regeneris, said: “Our analysis underlines how vast BT Group’s contribution is to the UK economy, particularly across the nations and regions.
“BT Group is almost unique in contributing to the economies of virtually every community, supporting significant levels of GVA spend and employment opportunities per region.”
Jane Wood, BT Group UK nations and regions director, said: “Few companies play as important a role in Northern Ireland as BT Group. Not only does BT connect friends, families and businesses, but also puts premium fuel in the tank of the local economy.
“We’re proud to be one of the region’s largest private sector employers and investors. Our investments, including the latest 5G mobile technology through our mobile network EE, will ensure the UK continues to be one of the world’s best-connected economies.”
A separate report recently by PWC highlighted that BT Group is the fifth highest tax contributor in the UK among FTSE 100 companies and is the largest capital expenditure investor in the UK.