Digital industry pumps £800 million into Northern Ireland economy

The IT and telecoms industry contributes in excess of £800 million a year to Northern Ireland's economy - accounting for 1.4 per cent of its gross value - according to data from the UK Technology Insights 2012 report from e-skills UK.

It estimated that the digital industry could pump an additional £700 million into the country's economy over the next five to seven years, driving the creation of up to 10,000 new jobs across many occupations and sectors.

Technology-based innovation is expected to be a key driver of the private sector growth needed to help the UK's economic recovery. Northern Ireland is now home to a number of large IT companies, mainly within the financial and medical software industries.

Around 28,000 people are employed in the IT and telecoms industry in Northern Ireland, in which demand for professionals increased noticeably in 2012 compared with the rest of the UK.

Employment of IT professionals in the run up to 2020 is forecast to grow at 2.16 per cent per year - three times as fast as the Northern Ireland average.

e-skills UK recently said that inspiring future talent and supporting professionals in the IT sector was crucial to Northern Ireland being recognised as an international technology leader.

It estimated that more than 1,900 IT professionals a year will be needed to fill additional job vacancies in Northern Ireland, while the number of IT graduates from higher education institutions has declined in recent years.

"Fully exploiting technology is the single most powerful lever Northern Ireland can employ to achieve wholesale productivity gains right across the economy," said e-skills UK in its four-year strategic plan for the sector.

"But achieving this depends on the action we take today. A vibrant IT workforce is critical for the success of every sector, and a world-class technology skills base is an essential pre-requisite for success in the global economy."

e-Skills is working alongside employers, educational institutions and the Government to promote the IT industry and boost take-up of IT skills.