ACCOUNTING giant KPMG has announced plans to recruit 200 staff for a new digital centre of excellence in Belfast.
The move, which KPMG states will involve an investment of £14 million, will see new services based out of Belfast, including cyber security, applied intelligence and digital transformation.
Around 20 people have already been recruited with the remaining 180 jobs set to be created inside three years. Some 160 of the recruits will come through the Department for the Economy’s assured skills academies, which are open to any graduate with at least a 2:2 degree.
It represents the latest addition to Belfast’s fast-growing cluster of cyber security firms.
Invest NI has offered the financial services giant a £1 million toward creating the jobs. The Department for the Economy (DfE) is also funding the training places to the tune of £1.3m.
Johnny Hanna, who heads the accounting firm’s operation in the north, said the financial incentives along with the local skills pipeline put Belfast ahead of other cities in KPMG’s decision making process.
“These opportunities don’t come up very often,” he said. “We’re looking at a situation where this centre of excellence could have gone to any one of a number of KPMG locations across the UK and Ireland or elsewhere.
“So we have to make the case for Belfast and the combination and support by Invest NI and the Department for the Economy is certainly very important.
“This is a positive development for the Northern Ireland economy, these are high quality jobs,” he added.
It’s estimated that the 200 new jobs will eventually be worth around £7m a year in salaries.
“It’s a strategic investment by KPMG around offering our global client base expertise in cyber security, applied intelligence and digital transformation,” continued Mr Hanna.
“When you stand back and reflect, there has been a growing need and demand over the last couple of years for cyber security and digitisation.
“In some ways the Covid situation has probably turbo-boosted it.”
KPMG, which first set up in Belfast in 1974, now employs around 270 people. In 2017 it relocated to its new its new headquarters at the Soloist Building next to Belfast’s Waterfront Hall
Virtually all staff are currently working from home. Mr Hanna said he anticipates that KPMG will likely adopt a hybrid model of working in future, mixing flexible home working with office based work.
“We have coped very well and managed to support clients fairly seamlessly,” he said. “Technology helps and we have a pretty successful virtual and training programme.”
The new skills academies will be delivered in conjunction with Belfast Met through eight two-month long academies over the next three years. The first has now opened for applications.
Those who complete the training will be guaranteed an interview for a role in the KPMG centre of excellence.
As well as the graduate roles, a range of managerial positions are also being created.
Economy minister Diane Dodds said: “Today’s announcement of 200 new jobs by KPMG is excellent news for Northern Ireland’s burgeoning professional and financial services sector.
“KPMG established its first office here in 1974 and has since demonstrated its commitment to Northern Ireland time and time again as its operation here has continued to grow.”
— to www.irishnews.com