29/09/2011

Jobs Boost As Global Consultancy Expands

A specialised consultancy that boasts one of the longest names in the business is to expand further as pricewaterhousecoopers, (PwC) announced they will develop their Belfast operation, creating a further 247 high quality jobs.

NI Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster (pictured) revealed the news on Thursday and said that Invest Northern Ireland has offered £1.765m of support to secure the project for Northern Ireland.

The investment will see the global consulting and advisory firm increase exports from Northern Ireland by developing three centres of excellence at its Waterfront Plaza headquarters in Belfast.

The largest of these will be a technology centre of excellence, alongside a capability and training centre of excellence and an international survey unit.

When the centres of excellence are fully operational some 80% of PwC's Northern Ireland based consulting activities will be delivered in export markets.

Announcing the investment the Minister said: "PwC has provided a significant contribution to the Northern Ireland economy over a number of years and this further investment is to be welcomed, particularly given the ongoing economic climate and increasing competition for such high value investment projects from other global locations.

"The investment will further develop the key centres of excellence within the PwC UK network and is a significant vote of confidence by the company in its Northern Ireland operation and in the calibre of graduates and experienced professionals available here.

"One of Invest NI's key objectives is to support the creation of high quality jobs that pay above the Northern Ireland private sector average.

"The new jobs being created by PwC all offer salaries significantly higher than that average and will boost the local economy by generating over £8m a year in additional salaries by 2014," she added.

PwC is one of the world's largest professional services firms, with over 161,000 staff in 154 countries spanning Europe, North America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Africa, and South and Central America.
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It took over the former Coopers & Lybrand in NI as it developed more than a decade ago and is now part of the PwC UK firm, and has offices in Belfast, Dungannon and Omagh, employing some 800 people altogether.

Northern Ireland Regional Chairman, Paul Terrington, said: "We're delighted to be able to announce this investment in our Belfast operation and believe that it will strengthen its strategic importance within the wider firm.

"A key factor is the availability of high-quality graduates from Northern Ireland universities and the enthusiasm of our own staff to exploit consulting export opportunities.

"In addition to the recruitment for a significant number of new graduate level and experienced consultancy positions, the project will also invest heavily in staff development and innovation," he added.

"We also plan to increase our already well established links with both of the local universities to help with the design of relevant degree courses. This will ensure that graduates coming out of our universities have the skills necessary to operate in highly complex consulting markets."

Ashley Unwin, Managing Partner for PwC's UK Consulting practice said the project would significantly enhance PwC’s competitiveness in export markets: "Despite the current economic difficulties, emerging regions are striving for growth, while developed countries are responding to new challenges.

"In both cases the demand for new technology, expert training and specialist research are increasing and our centres of excellence will enable PwC in Northern Ireland to capitalise on these new opportunities and markets."

Irish Eyes 'Not Smiling'

In a more unwelcome development, a medical devices company will transfer production of one of its products to Thailand, resulting in yet another job scare for the Irish Republic.

Medical devices firm Covidien is to transfer the manufacturing line for one of its products from Athlone in Co Westmeath to Thailand.

It is not yet known how many jobs will be affected by the move.

Talks between unions and management will get underway today to discuss the situation.

Dáil Jobs and Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said: "It's disappointing to hear about any jobs being under threat, but this company is at least looking to the future in Ireland.

"The company's commitment to bring new R&D (research and development) capability to future-proof their business in Ireland is heartening."

(BMcC/GK)

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