There was good news on the employment front yesterday, with the announcement of 300 new jobs in the services sector.
But these are not call centre positions, but rather jobs with a remarkably high (by Northern Ireland standards) average wage of £33,000 a year.
It is said the Tullett Prebon financial services posts will contribute over £9.9 million in salaries to the economy annually.
There continue to be significant problems in the Province’s education system, including the duplication and inefficiency that comes from having segregated provision, but we are still producing a potential workforce that in some respects is rated more highly than that in England where the quality of school education is heavily skewed towards the 7% of pupils who attend private schools.
Northern Ireland also has a good reputation for IT provision, as was apparent when Prince Charles visited Queen’s University Belfast’s cyber security unit in the Titanic Quarter.
Tullett Prebo, which Arlene Foster said “leads the way in the financial services sector”, was offered over £2 million towards the creation of the new jobs by Invest Northern Ireland.
These are the sorts of incentives that will be needed to lure more such employment to the Province.
The service sector dominates the UK economy, part of which is a powerful financial services sector, and indeed this was held up as an economic advantage by some supporters of Brexit. The stability of Britain and the dominance of the English language are two reasons why this is so important.
Northern Ireland can then offer more competitive wages and rent costs.
Anything that weans us off our dependence on public sector handouts is to be welcomed in a time of uncertain public finances.
In the meantime we must press ahead with a corporation tax cut, as one further lever in the bid to make the Province an attractive place to do business.