Posted on Tuesday 12 February 2013 by Ulster Business

 PEYE Caterpillar Jobs 0001

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Employment Minister Stephen Farry announce some good news with Caterpillar's Robert Kennedy

Global manufacturing giant Caterpillar has announced plans to create 200 back office jobs in west Belfast over the next five years, a move the company said shows its commitment to Northern Ireland.

In September last year Illinois-headquartered Caterpillar said it was making around 760 staff redundant from its manufacturing operations in Larne, Belfast and Newtownabbey and unveiled plans to move some production to China.

But it said today that investment in its Shared Services Centre will result in an additional 200 positions in areas such as finance and human resources. The jobs will provide support services for the company's European, African and Middle Eastern operations, a statement said.

Robert Kennedy, Caterpillar Northern Ireland Operations Director, said the company decided to make the investment in Belfast following an evaluation process which considered a number of locations in Europe.

"Northern Ireland was the preferred location due to factors including the local skills-base, the existing Caterpillar operations here, and the support of Invest NI," he said.

"We are pleased to be in a position to make today's announcement, which illustrates Caterpillar's commitment to Northern Ireland as the company invests to support its customers in Europe, Africa and the Middle East," he adds.

Caterpillar bought the Northern Ireland engineering firm FG Wilson in 1999 and retained the name of the diesel generator maker until the start of this year, when it was renamed Caterpillar (NI).

It blamed the redundancies announced last year on a slowdown in the global demand for its generator sets. Further job losses are still expected on the manufacturing side of the business because Caterpillar is moving production of around 70% of its small generator sets to China by the end of 2014.

In the wake of that crushing announcement Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton flew to the US to meet with Caterpillar bosses to discuss what could be done to ensure the company retained its presence in Northern Ireland.

That they have managed to secure such a large number of administrative jobs will be seen as a victory for Invest NI, but doubts remain over Northern Ireland's future as a manufacturing location.

Invest NI has offered Caterpillar £1.275m towards the plan to create an additional 200 shared services positions and the Department for Employment and Learning has also offered training support of £440,000 under its Assured Skills programme.

Minister Foster said: "This is a very positive announcement for Caterpillar which demonstrates confidence in the Northern Ireland proposition at a time of increasing competitiveness in global markets.

"Last year, Invest NI's Alastair Hamilton and I travelled to the US and met with Caterpillar senior management to specifically discuss the company's future plans in Northern Ireland. This investment project was discussed as part of that meeting. Since, then the team at Invest NI has worked tirelessly to secure the shared services positions for Northern Ireland and ensure that they were not lost to other potential locations in Europe."

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