29/04/2009

NI Job Creation Agency Reveals Successes

Although the official job creation agency, Invest NI promoted almost 6,500 new jobs in the last financial year, its client companies also announced almost 3,500 redundancies over the same period.

In publishing its annual figures this week, the 'strong results' produced were lauded, but had to be tempered with a warning of challenging times ahead.

There are many plus and minus points to the new data.

Invest NI Chairman Stephen Kingon said investment commitments made by the agency's clients had topped the £1bn mark for the first time ever.

£1.1bn of investment cash had been triggered by assistance of £150m offered by Invest NI.

He said that this would eventually see the local economy benefit from £165m a year in wages and salaries.

"While the results are strong, businesses everywhere are constantly re-evaluating their positions, with many seeking to cut costs and delay ambitions for expansion," he said.

The agency's newly installed boss, Alastair Hamilton, who took over at the start of April as Invest NI Chief Executive, said many of the redundancies had been the result of global decisions taken by large international manufacturing companies.

"The past year has seen fundamental shifts in the business landscape, locally and globally, and the current year is likely to present equally challenging conditions," he said, commenting on the report.

However, other good news is that Invest NI's budget had increased from £131m last year to £185m this year.

Invest NI said that in the year to the end of March it had promoted 6,494 new jobs and 'safeguarded' 951 more.

The agency had in fact met or exceeded most of the objectives set by the Executive but conceded that average wage levels across the new jobs created were lower than the target.

However, Mr Kingon said that as a result of the recession, many firms had examined their costs, cashflows and credit management.

The Invest NI Chairman said that while 2009 might be the worst year for the recession, companies should plan for a scenario of 'stress' in the medium term.

(BMcC)

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