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  • 'The pandemic has proven how resilient the tech sector already was’ – Dr Jayne Brady

    Belfast’s Digital Innovation Commissioner, Dr Jayne Brady MBE was recently a guest on Sync NI’s Tech Craic podcast and spoke about the UK Innovation Expert Group, of which she is a member.

    The group aims to provide suitable advice to increase the UK’s productivity through innovation. Dr Brady described her job role as an inclusive strategy, to deliver an increased amount and improved level of jobs for Northern Irish citizens.

    COVID-19 has affected thousands of businesses across the UK and Ireland. However, the tech sector has continued to thrive, with people working from home thanks to digital transformation and Dr Brady noted that Belfast has been part of the growing tech evolution over the last number of years.

    She said that in 2019, 25% of jobs advertised in Belfast were in the digital sector. NI’s capital has also been recognised as one of the best place to work in the UK in terms of living costs and salary, according to recruitment website Glassdoor.

    Innovation City Belfast chair and chief executive of Belfast City Council, Suzanne Wylie has previously noted that the city "has a proud history of research excellence, a vibrant community of innovators and start-ups".

    Dr Brady spoke on Tech Craic of the city’s resilience over the last 14 months throughout the pandemic.

    RELATED: New plans set to establish Belfast as Innovation City

    “The pandemic has proven how resilient the tech sector [here] already was,” she said. “This is due to the local SME performance and companies such as Kainos, and strong research domains which are globally significant and used to support the ecosystem.

    “With the media and technology sector thriving, many people are returning or planning return to Northern Ireland to get involved.

    “10 years ago, the prospect of travelling abroad to England or Scotland to search for a job in the media was more common, but with the additional development of new technology pathways, more people are choosing to stay in Northern Ireland as more jobs are becoming available.

    “The quality of jobs in the tech sector and the ability to make a difference in the world can be extremely beneficial and rewarding.”

    Northern Ireland’s tech sector is gaining more recognition as it has numerous employment pathways for people to follow. In 2021 it is becoming widely accepted that people don’t have to take the traditional route such as nursing or law to succeed in a career - jobs that are maybe currently less heard of can be better suited to an individual, and provide better opportunities.

    RELATED: New plans set to establish Belfast as Innovation City

    As noted in the Tech Craic podcast, NI universities are offering more routes into tech, often combined with creative industries, such as a degree in Interactive Media at Ulster University.

    Dr Brady continued, “I’ve had different career paths throughout my role [working] in digital. When I graduated 25 years ago I decided I wanted to work abroad, I went to Tokyo and Germany. At the moment in Northern Ireland you can get the same opportunities while still being in the brilliant place to work that is Belfast and the rest of NI.”

    Dr Brady also explained how the tech industry has developed so widely throughout the years, with people learning new skills that may have been impossible in the past. This is a particular benefit in light of the pandemic, where online skills are now a necessity for people’s school and working lives.

    Despite the disruptive impact of the coronavirus crisis, Dr Brady believes the future for NI tech companies is bright, with more people continuing to recognise the necessity and opportunity for jobs in this continually developing sector.

    Listen to the full episode of Tech Craic with Dr Jayne Brady here.

    About the author

    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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