Major call centre jobs boost in Derry

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The expected announcement that over 500 call centre jobs are to be created by BT in Londonderry is the best news the city has had for 50 years, a businessman has said.

Brendan Duddy, chairman of Derry's Town Centre Management said: "We are absolutely delighted. This is the biggest thing to us in the Derry/Londonderry area for the last 50 years.

"It is about a £1.5million per week into the economy."
The jobs will be in a new telephone call centre the telecommunications company BT is setting up in Derry.
Since the beginning of last year more than 4,000 jobs have been created in calls centres in Northern Ireland.

BT opened another call centre in Belfast just over a year ago. It currently employs 1,500 people at its call centres in Derry, Belfast, Enniskillen and Portadown. The centres handle directory enquiries and other services for parts of the United Kingdom.

Derry economist Gerry Murray said the new jobs would benefit the city as a whole. He said: "It is a major spin-off for the city centre. I think it will add about £15 million a year into the local economy which will lift quite a few small boats along the way.

"It will be very good for the city centre and the shops in that area but it will have a spin-off effect on housing and the general economy."

General Manager of the US-owned Stream International call centre which has recently expanded to employ 300 people in Derry said that part of their success was the availability of good quality staff.

He said: "Great people at every level has been part of our success here. We have a dedicated and committed workforce. That is recognised by our clients and our American owners. Derry is a truly outstanding model.

"We are able to bring in people very quickly from then local environment, train them up and get them on the phones to handle these very important technical support calls."

Helen Sayers of the Waterside Development Trust said the news had come at the right time for local people who had been training to fill such jobs.

She said: "We have been gearing people up to apply for these jobs, giving them the skills, the expertise and the confidence. It is just brilliant news for the City of Derry," she said.

BBC Northern Ireland Business Editor James Kerr said senior figures from the company are expected to make the announcement on Friday.

He said: "The company was one of the first outside investors to exploit Northern Ireland's potential as a call centre location.

"This sector has recently seen remarkable growth."

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