Why a career in telecoms is now so much more
ASK any young person considering what their future career might be and you'll no doubt get a plethora of answers ranging from the sensible to the sublime.
The same goes for anyone considering a change of career – the choice and opportunities are vast and on an ever-evolving globe with increasing levels of social mobility, the world can indeed be our oyster.
This week marks National Careers Week and as I write, I look back on more than three decades in the telecoms and tech sector.
Needless to say, the industry has changed immeasurably in that time but what a journey it's been.
Still considered by many as a niche at the turn of the millennium, tech is now undoubtedly mainstream, and the sector is booming locally.
Various reports have attempted to place a figure on the size of the IT and technology sector in Northern Ireland with the UK's Digital Economy Council finding the industry accounts for around one-in-seven of all jobs.
Sub-sectors such as fintech are putting this place on the global map for all the right reasons, supporting thousands of jobs, largely driven by US investors attracted here because of the incredible talent pool produced by our universities and colleges.
In almost continual growth mode for a quarter of a century, the wider tech industry shows little sign that the trajectory is slowing down.
Analysis by consultancy firm RSM unveiled last week showed that almost 400 new technology companies were incorporated in Northern Ireland last year alone.
That was impressive in itself but also represented a rise of 17 per cent on 2021 which it was reported made the region home to one of the fastest growing tech sectors anywhere in the UK.
A record £100m in venture capital, the vast majority of it coming from outside Northern Ireland, was also raised in the year for the industry.
Our own company, founded more than a decade ago essentially as a business telecoms provider has significantly widened our services in recent years in line with the demand of the wider business community.
As organisations increasingly seek to harness the benefits of digital transformation, simple mobile and landline solutions only make up part of the answer. As a result, we've evolved with them.
It means a career in telecoms is now a career in managed IT, cyber security, cloud technology and beyond.
The industry today is virtually unrecognisable compared to the sector just five years ago, let alone when I began my journey more than 35 years ago. It's incredibly exciting for younger people starting out or those joining the industry for the first time – I can't wait to see where we go next.
:: David Armstrong is chief executive of b4b Group