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DfE & PwC announce Assured Skills Academies delivered by Belfast Met

The Department for the Economy and global professional services giant PwC today announced more than 600 high quality Assured Skills Academy training places.

The Department has worked with PwC, Belfast Met and Ulster University (UU) to develop a £4.4m pre-employment training project to upskill individuals through Assured Skills Academies to compete for 600 exciting new jobs at PwC as part of significant growth for the firm in Northern Ireland.

The Academies will be delivered by Belfast Met and UU over the next five years and the first Academy, PwC’s Future Business Skills Academy, is open for applications now.

Announcing the project, DfE Deputy Secretary Heather Cousins said: “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 upskill graduates to compete for 600 new jobs at PwC represents the biggest Assured Skills Academies project to date.

“Assured Skills Academies are a proven and successful model of upskilling the Northern Ireland workforce and ensuring that local businesses have access to the people they need to grow. 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.”

PwC is recruiting people for permanent, highly-skilled roles in the company’s new state-of-the-art, tech-enabled Merchant Square office in Belfast, within its rapidly expanding Operate operational delivery division.

Ms Cousins added: “I wish PwC every success as it progresses its plans to further grow its Northern Ireland presence and relocates to new, purpose-built premises in the coming period.”

Academy participants will receive industry-relevant pre-employment training that equips them to compete for increasingly in-demand jobs such as business associates, data analysts and robotic process engineers. PwC will be recruiting for these posts and those who complete an Academy will be guaranteed an interview with the firm.

Paul Terrington, PwC’s Head of Regions, said: “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 upskilling not just for our employees but for wider society.”

Ian McConnell, PwC partner responsible for Operate, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the Department for the Economy, Belfast Met and UU to retain and upskill Northern Ireland’s homegrown workforce, attract people home and create sustainable, quality jobs of the future.

“The Assured Skills programme will offer a pipeline of talent to help individuals who successfully complete the Academies compete for 600 vacancies. The training and roles will also have a long-term economic impact for Northern Ireland.”

Congratulating the firm, Alastair Hamilton, Invest Northern Ireland’s CEO, said: “We first started working with the local PwC team in 2011, helping the business grow from 800 people to the 2,000 staff it employs today. The Belfast office is now the fastest growing PwC office in the UK and the plans to create a further 600 jobs is a resounding endorsement of the local team and of Northern Ireland.

“As I leave my role in Invest NI, I am delighted to have the opportunity to congratulate Paul and the team at PwC on their growth over the past ten years and particularly this latest investment in the Belfast operation. I wish Paul and the team every success for the future.”

The investment by DfE will deliver 37 Assured Skills Academies delivering pre-employment training for up to 120 graduates per year over the next five years.

Course content for the Assured Skills Academies has been co-created by PwC with Belfast Met and UU, ensuring that participants are upskilled and ready to compete for jobs upon completion of the course.

Damian Duffy, Director of Development at Belfast Met, said: “The investment by DfE in this series of Assured Skills Academies, delivered in conjunction with Ulster University, is testament to the confidence in our track record of delivering high quality Academies in complex business topics. Our industry-relevant, focussed teaching gives participants the skills they need to operate in the business world and we look forward to welcoming learners onto the course over the next five years.”

Michael Pogue, Senior Lecturer at Ulster University, commented: “UU Business School is committed to connecting education and skills to industry and to that end we are always keen to be involved in delivering accelerated training and development for graduates that will help them succeed in a range of priority sectors and that will support the wider economy generally. We are pleased to once again be collaborating with Belfast Met on this exciting series of Assured Skills Academies.”

Applications for the first PwC Future Business Skills Academy are open, with 20 graduate training places available. Applicants must hold a 2:2 degree in any discipline. Closing date for applications is 20 December 2019.

More information and details of how to apply are available at

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