TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Stacey Vanek-Smith: The New York Stock Exchange announced plans this morning to open up a service center in Northern Ireland, creating up to 400 jobs there. Here to talk with us about it is Michael Smyth, head of economics at Ulster University. Michael, what kind of jobs will this create?
Michael Smyth: Oh these are high-end jobs. There’s very good Internet connections here. So the jobs really are software-systems development of the highest order. Cause if you think about it, the bulk of trades and the worlds’ financial markets are going to be taking place through this.
Vanek-Smith: How significant is this for Northern Ireland?
Smyth: Well it’s hugely significant. I mean the salary levels of these jobs, which are very high. The big problem here in Northern Ireland are the salary levels and the jobs were too low for us to close the so-called productivity gap with the rest of the U.K. and with Europe. These jobs will make quite a dent in that gap. It’ll close it quite significantly. And if I had a wish, it would be three or four more projects like this.
Vanek-Smith: I’ve read that there is already kind of a rush of investment this morning into Northern Ireland. Is that something that you think might continue because of this?
Smyth: Well certainly the capacity to take it here. We have geared ourselves up here to try and attract English-speaking high and knowledge-based jobs. And this is the latest in a series, but probably the most significant one. Citigroup have invested here. There’s a couple of large investments. And they’re on record as saying that they’re very, very pleased with the quality and the dedication of the workforce here. There is kind of a work ethic here that you don’t find perhaps as strong in other parts of the U.K.
Vanek-Smith: Well Hillary Clinton was in Northern Ireland last week talking about what a strong workforce it was and what a promising place for companies to come.
Smyth: Yes, and I think for 30 of the last 40 years we have simply been off-limits to a lot of investors. But I think Northern Ireland is now gradually taking its place alongside Dublin as a good, safe, reliable location. As I said good, educated workforce. Speak a particularly pure form of the English language, if I may say so. And we’re pro-business.
Vanek-Smith: Michael Smyth is the head of economics at the University of Ulster. Michael, thank you.
Smyth: Thank you.
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