£1bn plan for 20,000 new Belfast jobs to be signed in autumn

  • 20,000 skilled jobs in the Belfast region are to be created through a £1bn plan as part of the Belfast City Region Deal, which the Finance Minister said will be signed off on this autumn.

    There will also be a 10-year programme of economic growth.

    Announced in 2018, the £700m Belfast City Region Deal is a package of funding and decision-making powers agreed between central government and local regions.

    It is made up of 22 integrated projects and involves six local councils, Queen's University, Ulster University, further education colleges and the Civil Service.

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    The four main themes of the deal are:

    • innovation and digital
    • boosting tourism
    • infrastructure
    • employability and skills

    Finance Minister Conor Murphy this week said: "The Belfast Region City Deal is progressing towards signing the deal document. City Deals are long term capital investment programmes and there is a significant amount of work to be done in developing proposals between signing heads of terms and agreeing a deal document. Work continues on this at pace. I anticipate that the deal document will be signed in autumn."

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    "Recasting old industries through Research and Development, like the shipyards for example, offers us the ability to create greener, better paid and locally rooted jobs," added SDLP group leader on Belfast City Council, Donal Lyons, who is also a member of the council's City Growth and Regeneration Committee.

    "What’s more, these sectors also offer proper careers as opposed to the minimum wage, zero hour contract positions that a lot of young people have been forced to take up.

    "We also need to take advantage of the fact that we sit on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, one of the biggest sources of natural energy in the world. It’s clear that renewable energy technologies are the future and we’re well placed to develop hydro and tidal energy research.

    "In comparison to other cities, quite a lot of land in Belfast City Centre is in public ownership and that can be used to rejuvenate and rebalance the city and raise the quality of living.”

    The Belfast Innovation and Inclusive Growth Commission also published proposals last month for NI and the city to 'press the reset button on how prosperity and growth is delivered'.

    Meanwhile in the North West, the Derry & Strabane City Deal is expected to potentially bring 7,200 jobs by 2032 with health and ICT identified as key drivers, but it is anticipated that over 1,000 jobs will be lost in the retail and manufacturing sectors there over the next decade.

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