PwC supports up-skilling of Northern Ireland workforce

05 December 2019 3 min. read

Big Four professional services firm PwC is supporting a £4.4 million pre-employment training project with Belfast Met and Ulster University to digitally up-skill 120 graduates per year over the next five years. More than 600 skilled jobs will be created by the development.

PwC has been working consistently to grow in Northern Ireland in recent years. Northern Ireland represents PwC’s fastest growing UK region, with the professional services firm’s Belfast office doubling its headcount during 2018. The firm announced at that moment that it was making further plans for the future in Belfast, having launched fully-funded tech and data degree apprenticeships in Queen's University Belfast and another four universities in the UK, giving over 100 students a traditional university experience while receiving paid on-the-job training.

Now, PwC has further invested in the up-skilling of Northern Ireland’s workforce – and theoretically developed a key pipeline of new talent, amid an increasingly crowded consulting sector for top level human resources – with a new project in the country’s largest city. The Department for the Economy worked with PwC, Belfast Met and Ulster University (UU) to develop a £4.4 million pre-employment training project, which forms part of significant growth plans for PwC in Northern Ireland over the next five years.

PwC supports up-skilling of Northern Ireland workforce

Since starting as a pilot in 2011, Assured Skills Academies have trained more than 1,500 people, with over 1,200 securing employment across a range of diverse sectors. Following this news, Special Assured Skills Academies will now be delivered by Belfast Met and UU over the next five years, while the first, PwC's Future Business Skills Academy, is open for applications now. The initiative will ultimately deliver 37 Assured Skills Academies, boosting pre-employment training for up to 120 graduates per year up to 2025.

Paul Terrington, PwC's Head of Regions, commented, "Our Operate division's unprecedented growth over the past two-and-a-half years has created a consistent demand for more highly-skilled people to fill exciting jobs of the future in Northern Ireland – PwC's biggest UK location outside London. Co-creating the content for these academies means we are able to play a positive role in upskilling the Northern Ireland workforce, in line with PwC's commitment to digital up-skilling not just for our employees but for wider society."

Economy Department Deputy Secretary Heather Cousins added, "This expansion by PwC is a massive endorsement of the talent in Northern Ireland and the Department for Economy's ability to respond to the skills needed by growing companies in the professional services sector here. The co-operation between DfE, PwC, Belfast Met and Ulster University to up-skill graduates to compete for 600 new jobs at PwC represents the biggest Assured Skills Academies project to date.”

As the rest of the consulting industry bids to tap into the Northern Ireland market, many firms have invested heavily in the region in recent months alongside PwC. Fellow Big Four competitor Deloitte aims to have increased its headcount in Belfast to 1,000 by the end of the year, while RSM looked to better profit from its Northern Ireland-residing wing by merging it fully with its larger UK business.