23rd Mar 2012
By Simon Gough
High end jobs at a time of high unemployment create great PR for politicians like enterprise minister Arlene Foster.
So when it was announced yesterday that a US company is set to create 50 software jobs in Belfast, Ms Foster and her ministerial colleague Stephen Farry were on hand to welcome the investment and proclaim its benefits to the Northern Irish economy.
On the face of it this seems like good news – CVS Caremark is a Fortune 50 company with around 200,000 employees worldwide.
However with Northern Irish companies already struggling to find qualified IT professionals, it begs the question whether the £500,000 of public money that has gone into attracting this investment could have been better spent.
The new software centre will make it even harder for local companies to recruit the right talent. Surely the £300,000 from Invest NI and the £200,000 from the Department of Employment and Learning would be better spent training IT professionals, or attracting investment in another sector where there is a high demand for jobs.
This is especially significant given the fact that the total salaries of the jobs are estimated at £1.5 million – so the public are, in effect, paying a third of the salaries for professionals who could easily be employed in other companies.
International investment is, of course, generally a good thing – but possibly not at this price and at the expense of taking talent from indigenous companies. Northern Ireland doesn’t need more software jobs, it needs more qualified software professionals.
* Photo by NICVA @ Flickr