As life opens up, the future looks brighter still. We’ve all got a list of things we’ll never take for granted again. Yes, this past year and a half has presented its challenges, but it’s also brought opportunities and demonstrated the resilience of many of Northern Ireland’s key industries, academic institutions and, of course, the people behind them.
In recent years, Northern Ireland has topped countless polls measuring the happiness of its citizens. Even as recently as 2020, we came out tops as the happiest region in the UK. Even in the face of the pandemic, the annual Happiness Index by Lloyds Banking Group found contentment amongst Northern Ireland’s people had increased almost six per cent, while the UK as a whole reported a negligible rise of just 0.4%.
As the regional business development agency for Northern Ireland, we see the evidence of this every day. We might be the smallest region of the UK with only 1.8 million people, but we’re big on success. Companies both large and small come to Northern Ireland seeking growth – and Invest NI supports them with open arms. Plus, our initial welcome often turns into life-long partnership.
Here are some of the reasons why.
Talent in abundance
Northern Ireland is revered for the quality education offered by its schools, colleges and universities. Nearly a fifth of public expenditure is on education, and we consistently outperform all other UK regions in academic qualifications at GCSE and A-Level.
We’re hungry for knowledge and personal development, especially when it comes to the industries that are shaping the future. Northern Ireland currently has the highest percentage of qualified IT professionals in the UK and Ireland, for instance, with one in 11 people working in the knowledge economy. Each year, there are 4,000 graduates with business qualifications, with tech being a specific area of focus, alongside finance and other professional services.
US workforce management company, Workrise, is just one example of a new investor to have come to Northern Ireland to access its skilled workforce. It is now in the process of setting up a technology engineering centre which will create 153 new jobs.
“We selected Northern Ireland as the location for this new centre based on the high-quality software engineers with industry skills, along with a strong pipeline of graduates from your excellent universities. This along with the practical and financial support from Invest NI, made Northern Ireland a very attractive location.”
Workrise CEO, and co-founder, Xuan Yong
The demographic of Northern Ireland is also favourable when it comes to talent. We have one of the youngest populations in Europe – over 50 per cent are aged under 40 – as well as one of the most loyal workforces, with acknowledged low labour turnover rates.
Finally, if our existing talent isn’t enough, there’s another route. When a company is interested in creating jobs in Northern Ireland, Assured Skills provides the necessary support to source a high quality workforce through bespoke training and recruitment.
Fully funded by the Department for the Economy, the programme typically works by facilitating the development, recruitment and delivery of a six to eight week pre-employment Assured Skills Academy with a college or university partner. Candidates are of a high calibre, and minimum entry level qualifications, such as a bachelor’s degree, can be set.