Posted on Thursday 3 May 2012 by Ulster Business

Btjobs

Ministers Arlene Foster and Stephen Farry announce 120 new jobs alongside BT Northern Ireland CEO Colm O'Neill  

Communications giant BT has chosen Northern Ireland as the location for a new contact centre which will bring around 120 jobs to Belfast.

Located in the company’s Riverside Tower office, BT said the centre will provide flexible support to different parts of the global BT Group when there is a short-term need for additional resources.

The call centre is due to open in August 2012 with recruitment of “multi-skilled advisors and managers” and five weeks of training for successful applicants to be undertaken before it becomes fully functional.

Invest NI is supporting the investment by contributing £568,000 from its Jobs Fund, while the Department for Employment and Learning has offered over £108,000 of training support under its Assured Skills programme.

Enterprise Minister said the move was a boost for the Business Services sector, which she described as a “key driver of economic growth”.

“BT considered other locations for this project and it is due to the positive experience that the company has had here in terms of the calibre of staff, and the support offered by Invest NI and DEL, that it decided to further invest here,” she said.

BT employs over 2,500 people in Northern Ireland and already has two centres of excellence for digital customer care and a Global Development Centre in Belfast. The company’s rollout of high speed fibre broadband in Northern Ireland is also ahead of the rest of the UK.

Colm O’Neill, CEO of BT Northern Ireland, said the decision by BT Group was a “great vote of confidence in Northern Ireland” and the potential growth opportunities that exist here.

Cost was not the only factor in helping the local management team attract the project to Northern Ireland as the new centres will tap into existing local expertise, he added.

“We already do digital care for BT from Enniskillen and Derry and those are high end digital care jobs which are of high value. We also have one of eight global development centres in Belfast - they are the people who are developing our next generation TV platform which will be released later in the year,” O’Neill told Ulster Business.

“Reputation was an important factor and because our staff in Northern Ireland are already doing a great job we have been able to attract a lot of investment from BT Group. It has been proven that this is an area BT invests in. The people we get here in Northern Ireland are flexible, well educated and have a great attitude, which all played into making us attractive,” he added.

Asked whether contact centre jobs were the best type of roles to be bringing to Northern Ireland, O’Neill reiterated they would be high value positions.

“It is important to be out there looking to attract jobs. Yes, you can reflect over a period of time is the mix right, are these jobs portable jobs that could go elsewhere, etc. But I don’t think you look at that on a project basis. We’re supportive of Invest NI’s strategy,” he said.

“FDI is an absolutely key dynamic to the Northern Ireland economy and the rebalancing that needs to take place, so we need to be out there looking for any opportunity.”

The Communication Workers Union welcomed the BT announcement. Andy Kerr, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “We warmly welcome the confirmation of these 120 new BT jobs in Belfast. It shows the success that we have had in lobbying the company and working closely with BT to bring work back from abroad and prioritise the creation of UK-based jobs.

“It's great news for Northern Ireland and the local Belfast economy that BT is investing in this community which has suffered from high unemployment.
"We hope that the Belfast contact centre will prove a successful venture for the long-term and we'll continue to push for more job creation in the UK. We're also working with BT to ensure the new recruits have full access to join the CWU and take advantage of trade union membership and the benefits which come with it.”

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