Posted on Wednesday 11 March 2015 by Ulster Business

Digital revolution shakes up job market

The digital revolution means one-in-20 jobs in Northern Ireland did not exist only 25 years ago, according to new research from PwC.

Its UK Economic Outlook found that 5.2% of the total employment number in Northern Ireland is now made up of rolesin the digital sector such as software engineers, database administrators and IT support workers, posts which have only emerged since 1990.

While Northern Ireland’s digital workforce is growing rapidly, the number of workers employed in the field is slightly below the UK average of 6% and well below that of London at 10%.

The report, prepared in association with Dr Carl Benedikt Frey of the Oxford Martin Programme at Oxford University, found the overall Northern Ireland workforce should growth by just under 5% over the next decade - below the UK average of 6% and the fourth lowest of the 21 regions and cities covered in the research.

When it comes to economic output in the current year, PwC’s Chief Economist Dr Esmond Birnie expects GDP (gross domestic product) to grow by just 1.7% in Northern Ireland this year, the lowest of all UK regions and well down on the UK average of 2.5%.

“It’s…below our estimate of 1.8% for 2014, suggesting that, while employment may still be growing and unemployment falling, output, exports and productivity all remain elusive and remain well behind most other UK regions.”

He also said Northern Ireland property prices had risen by 4.9% in 2014, around half of the 10% witnessed across the UK as a whole.

However, he said a fall in energy prices is offering a boost.

“There is no doubt that lower oil prices and falling inflation have given a boost to household disposable incomes and with inflation at 0.3%, most workers have received what equates to a real-terms pay increase.

“However, recovery is being driven by jobs rather than productivity and productivity growth will be critical in enabling wages to recover without driving up inflation in the medium-term.” 

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