PwC report identifies four key areas to improve north's economy

A report from PwC has identified four areas where immediate action is required to develop the foundations for sustainable improvements in the Northern Ireland economy
Gary McDonald Business Editor

A NEW report from PwC identifies four areas where immediate action is required to develop the foundations for sustainable improvements in the north's economy.

Part of the firm's UK Economic Outlook, the report identifies a need to create a simple, concise narrative for Northern Ireland that promotes the opportunity and the key strengths of the region.

It draws on surveys from key organisations, evidence of successful programmes and the strengths of the region's most successful sectors.

The four areas identified are: education and skills; climate and energy; inward investment; and partnership working.

The most urgent recommendation is fixing problems in the education system, given that the north has a significantly higher proportion of workers with low or no qualifications compared to the rest of the UK.

The report argues that such is the success of apprenticeships and other business-led re-skilling initiatives, that they demand “parity of esteem”.

It highlights the example of PwC's Assured Skills Academies where 94 per cent of participants successfully secured a job after completing the programme.

On trade and investment, the central theme is the need to create a simple and concise narrative that is “positive, forward-looking and unerringly focused on seizing the economic opportunities that clearly exist.”

While acknowledging the political sensitivities regarding the current trading arrangements, the report encourages Northern Ireland firms and other stakeholders to capture the opportunities from the region's unique trading position.

PwC NI partner Dr David Armstrong, who co-authored the report, said: “The golden thread that runs through these recommendations is a spirit of partnership.

“No one organisation can address these challenges on their own. We can each have our own goals but, with so many parts depending on another, the fact remains that we'll only achieve successful, sustainable change through meaningful collaboration.

“We saw during the pandemic how quickly we could adapt and how innovative we could be. We need to now take this learning and apply it to Northern Ireland plc. We must refocus energies, redouble efforts and reframe our story.”

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