Business

PwC announce plans to recruit 600 graduates in Belfast

L-R: PwC's head of regions Paul Terrington announcing plans to create 600 jobs in Belfast with DfE Deputy Secretary Heather Cousins and Ian McConnell, PwC partner. Picture by Picture by Darren Kidd /Press Eye
Ryan McAleer

PRICE Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) has announced plans to create 600 jobs in Belfast, taking its workforce in the city to 2,900.

The financial services giant will recruit the new staff from a £4.4 million pre-employment training project for graduates run by the Department for the Economy in conjunction with Belfast Met and Ulster University.

A total of 740 places will be made available in 37 eight-week assured skills academies run over the course of five years. Every participant is guaranteed a chance at a job with PwC's Operate division. The financial services firm anticipates that it will recruit four-in-five.

PwC said the roles will be with Operate, the operational delivery arm of the financial services group.

Around 1,300 of PwC's 2,300 workforce in the north are already working within the division.

PwC's head of regions Paul Terrington described the new roles as permanent, desirable and offering a clear career path. He said the expansion of Operate reflected the “unprecedented growth” of the division over the past two-and-a-half years.

“Our clients want us to deliver solutions rather than pure advice,” he said, adding that PwC's operation in the north was now its biggest UK location outside London.

PwC's Northern Ireland workforce has almost trebled in the past eight years. The company is already bursting at the seams at its Waterfront Plaza headquarters on Belfast's Laganbank Road, and has been forced to take over a floor in the Danske Bank building next to Belfast City Hall to house its staff.

It expects to relocate all its staff to the £70m Merchant Square office scheme in Belfast city centre by the end of 2020.

Mr Terrington described the building on Wellington Place as the biggest ever private sector office deal in the city.

He said it will be capable of housing up to 3,000 staff, which PwC will expect to reach in around five years.

He also revealed that the financial services group will make the move to Merchant Square all at once.

“We hope that this time next time we will be gearing up to go. We are confident that before the end of the next calendar year, we will be in place to move.”

Mr Terrington said Belfast City Council is anticipating a significant economic benefit from the relocation to the more central hub.

“Already we hear anecdotally that a lot of vacant lots in and around that building have already been taken up on the strength of there will be 2,500 people in that building.”

The assured skills courses will provide training in future business skills, data analytics and robotic process automation. Applicants must hold at least a 2:2 degree in any discipline.

Last year, financial services firm FinTru made a similar announcement, pledging to recruit 500 graduates through assured skills courses as part of its plans to create 605 jobs in Belfast and Derry.

DfE's Deputy Secretary Heather Cousins said the latest programme for PwC represents the biggest to date.

“Assured Skills Academies are a proven and successful model of upskilling the Northern Ireland workforce and ensuring that local businesses have access to the people they need to grow,” she said.

“Since starting as a pilot in 2011, assured skills academies have trained more than 1,500 people, with over 1,200 securing employment across a range of diverse sectors.”

Damian Duffy, director of development at Belfast Met, said the first PwC future business skills academy is already open for applications.

“The investment by DfE in this series of assured skills academies, delivered in conjunction with Ulster University, is testament to the confidence in our track record of delivering high quality academies in complex business topics.

“Our industry-relevant, focussed teaching gives participants the skills they need to operate in the business world and we look forward to welcoming learners onto the course over the next five years.”

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