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14th Apr 2017

Reasons to be cheerful, part 1

Whether you’re looking for a job or hiring for a new position, it’s easy to get the feeling we’re very hard done by here in Northern Ireland.

Sure, isn’t the dole queue down the street and the talent pool shallower than a puddle in the Gobi desert?

Well don’t listen to such negativity because – at the moment at least – we are all operating in a job market which is healthier than it has been for a while.
No really, we are.

The latest data from the people that know at the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency and released only this week showed that the unemployment rate fell once again to 5.2% in the three months to the end of February.

That’s down 0.4% on the previous quarter and a hefty 1.1% on the same time last year.

That, and a lot of the other job data which was released in the same monthly report, goes against every prediction made in the wake of last June’s Brexit vote.

Most economists and commentators expected companies to shed staff like sandbags from a sinking air balloon but in reality they, after a brief bump in the immediate aftermath of the EU Referendum, have put Brexit firmly into the category of “Things we need to keep an eye on but can’t do much about for now”.

Meanwhile, the talent available to recruiters would appear to be higher than ever, if anecdotal evidence is to be believed and if the number of global companies setting up shop on these shores is anything to go by.

Just look what some of the latest arrivals have had to say in the last couple of months

“The supply of talent in Northern Ireland, particularly at graduate level, is impressive and…it makes this region a highly attractive location to grow our company.”

“The availability of skilled graduates in the area was a critical factor in our decision to locate this centre in Northern Ireland.”

"The talented workforce, cluster of software development businesses….”

These are quotes from actual overseas investors who have decided to invest a hefty sum of money in these shores, granted with a big dose of support from Invest NI.

And some of the lowest average wages in the UK also help, but still, it’s difficult not to be a little impressed and, dare I say it, a little proud.

These big inward investors bring with them a stack of jobs which we’d otherwise wouldn’t have and haven’t as some had worried, been a drain on talent that some had feared.

Take, for instance the legal world, one which had been wary that some of the biggest names in global law were setting up back offices here.

Rather than pillage talent, they have provided jobs for hundreds of legal graduates (and others) who would otherwise have had to leave Northern Ireland to get employed.

That in turn has meant there is a concentration of legal brainpower here which is carrying out more and more important functions from all corners of the globe.

The law community has even joined together to work with Ulster University to further it’s growing reputation as a centre of excellence when it comes to the technology used in the legal field.

Maybe some of this positivity is because these words are being written ahead of a long weekend but in reality there is a lot to be impressed by in the current job market, whether you’re a job hunter or looking to fill a role.

But, as always, don’t get carried away, because Brexit throws up a host of uncertainties which could cause a bit of hesitation amongst hirers.

Then again, we said that when we voted out so maybe just enjoy it while you can.

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