Almost 150 new jobs are to be created in Belfast it was confirmed on Tuesday with the expansion of energy firm SSE Airtricity worth £2.7 million a year to the local economy.
The investment, backed with £700,000 in support from Invest NI, was announced by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster will see the business consolidate its activities in one set offices in the city.
The company currently employs 98 staff in two Belfast offices and is creating the new jobs in support of its growing energy retail operations.
The new call centre roles will be in the areas of customer service, sales and administrative support.
“This investment represents further growth in Northern Ireland’s important business services sector, which already boasts a number of international companies that have been attracted here by the cost-competitive environment,” said Mrs Foster.
“The salaries for the 143 new jobs will generate an additional £2.7m a year for the economy and the investment confirms SSE Airtricity’s continuing commitment to Northern Ireland.
“Invest Northern Ireland has offered almost £700,000 of support for the jobs and associated training through its Skills Growth Programme and this was a key element in attracting the new jobs to Belfast,” she added.
“The proposed training includes recognised qualifications through City and Guilds and IICM, which will enhance the skills pool in Northern Ireland.”
That resource, said SSE Airtricity Managing Director Stephen Wheeler, was a key reason why the firm which operated across the UK elected to expand in Belfast and hoped to continue.
“We chose Northern Ireland because of the talented, youthful, enthusiastic and capable workforce that is available here and which has already played such a vital role in our business growth to date in Northern Ireland.
As the second largest energy provider in the province, Mr Wheeler said the firm remained committed to further increasing its share of the energy market.
“Our investment in new jobs and a new Belfast call centre at an expanded and central office location is our latest demonstration of that commitment.”
As a growth business he said they were “looking at opportunities all the time”.
“One area is an opportunity in the area of energy efficiency and we want to help our 300,000 customers here use less energy and that’s a great opportunity for further growth.
“There’s absolutely no reason why we couldn’t see more growth in years to come.”
From September new and existing staff will be based in the company’s new corporate premises at Millennium House on Belfast’s Great Victoria Street.