2015 is looking bleak on the jobs front…

Education Minister John O’Dowd has said schools will likely see 500 job losses for teachers and 1,000 for non-teaching staff due to £28m cuts to his budget. Meanwhile we keep churning out student teachers with no work for them.

Also today 200 jobs are to go at a call centre in West Belfast. Translink is also warning of 150 job loses, and also claiming it could go out of business. How a monopoly could go out of business is beyond me, but there you go.

Add this to the thousands who are due to take redundancy from the civil service this year and it is clear there is going to be a lot of people watching daytime TV.

Hopefully new jobs will be created to balance things out. Kainos is hiring 400 in Belfast.

The issue is going to be the types of jobs that are created. If you are in computers you are flying but other areas are not so rosey. If you are a working class kid with no trade or qualifications then your options can be very grim.

My own view is tourism could be our salvation. Tourism in Northern Ireland is around 10% of what it is in the Republic, so there is huge potential for growth. Tourism is great as it spreads the jobs around. Derry/Londonderry, Enniskillen, Glens of Antrim all have great tourist potential. There is one major downside to this. In order to attract the tourists we would need to give us our regularly orgies of destruction. As John Hume’s father told him: “You can’t eat a flag“, but we sure love trying.

  • barnshee

    “My own view is tourism could be our salvation. Tourism in Northern Ireland is around 10% of what it is in the Republic,”

    Can`t wait– all those attractions– stunning weather– world class cuisine and accommodation- outstanding transport links we will be killed in the rush.

  • Ernekid

    As someone looking for graduate employment. It’s becoming evident that most of the job opportunities are for software development and accounting. Not great for a majority of job seekers.

  • james

    Perhaps money could be saved on vanity projects like, um, I don’t know…..schools set up to serve only about a dozen children via the medium of Irish? Also, it is interesting that there will be heavy job losses in West Belfast. Perhaps the people of West Belfast might want to consider choosing to spend their votes on a political party which might actually deliver for them.

  • Brian O’Neill

    We have a lot of offer tourists. Our food products are the best in the world. The scenery is amazing, and the locals are generally friendly. Sure there is some rough areas but so does anywhere.

    Talk NI done all you like but the south shows what we can achieve.

  • Stephen

    or maybe money could be saved if we weren’t spending millions policing twadell

  • Stephen

    id say that Twadell is nothing but a face saving vanity project

  • james

    Indeed. And there are several ways to resolve that situation. The key difference, though, is that that expense is caused by two rival factions, each locked in a battle of intransigence. O’Dowd wasting money on an Irish-medium school is a free choice made by a politician to burn public money which would be much better spent elsewhere.

  • aber1991

    How dare you type such anti-Ulster propaganda.
    We, in Northern Ireland, have a wonderful climate.
    As for cuisine, what could be better than Ulster Fry? If you do not like Ulster Fry, you are not a fit person to be living here.
    What is wrong with our transport links? That bus service, the Maiden City Flier takes you from Belfast to Derry quickly and in comfort – with a magnificent view of the countryside. But if you want a really scenic route, there could be nothing better than the train journey from Coleraine to Derry.

  • Glenn Clare

    Like this warning they were given in 2008 James.


  • Glenn Clare

    Maybe we could stop all inquiries.

  • PaulT

    I find food quality in NI appalling esp for a largely agricultural region. Most meat seem to be cheap imported rubbish, everything Irish in Ireland is labelled Irish same as the various logos in England and Scotland, but NI it is just non identified cheap looking meat.

    Some locals are friendly, but NI lacks the openness and friendliness of Irish people as they gently fleece tourists.

    I was moaning at the state of road marking in Newry to someone yesterday, I was told the council had no money, I replied they just spent a fortune on railings along the canal, I was told that was for tourism. I stopped discussing it after that, the towns a dump with little to offer tourists but we have nice railings, go figure

  • PaulT

    And Apple are expanding in Ireland as are a lot of tech companies, in fact one Irish company from last week is predicting several hundred IT jobs in the near future, their business is largely selling software systems to the NHS, go figure.

  • PaulT

    £20,000,000,000 for a DWP IT system, or 12,000,000,000 for a NHS IT system, or all the other failed expensive IT systems are vanity projects, wars Iraq one, two and three, and Afganistan and Libya and Syria are vanity projects, constant change to the NHS (now costing 2,000,000,000 per WEEK) are vanity.

    3200,000,000 for scout cars…………..

  • james

    Well, yes. The trouble with cults, of course, is they tend to shut down debate and mechanically dismiss any and all dissenting voices as opposition conspiracies. And indeed, historically in West Belfast, there are rather more robust methods of suppressing disagreement. I suspect there is a hard core within the Sinn Fein vote that are prepared to sacrifice their children’s interests for the greater ‘good’ of the party.

  • Cue Bono

    Ah, but sure Gerry did go. He sloped off, Teddy bears, rubber ducks, trampoline and all, to deliver the same winning formula in Louth.

  • Plus all the job cuts lined up with the Department of Employment & Learning cuts to the European Social Fund funded community sector projects right across NI. Quite a few will be closing their doors when the money is withdrawn in April

  • Dan

    Tourism will be our salvation, yet, they decided doing away with APD was too costly.
    Useless shower.

  • Glenn Clare

    I fear the sinners would rather their electorate would be kept as virtual perpetual victims and ghettoized, as evidenced by the McCressh issue. They can’t blame any of this on the Unionists they are the ones making the decisions, like the Stormont house agreement it is them in the firing line no one else.

  • Brian O’Neill

    What is APD?

  • sorelyboy

    The tourism angle, especially activity tourism, has a lot of potential to create thousands of jobs right across N. Ireland. We fancy ourselves at being good at tourism, but the reality is that we are light years behind GB and Europe. In terms of countryside access, we have a legislative framework which ill serves just about everyone – including the farming sector (though they’d be slow to admit it).

    Scotland makes £1.6bn per annum from activity tourism alone, but then they realised long ago the benefits of progressive countryside access legislation. Access to the countryside is key – right to roam on wild land, access to the coast, and a proper right of way network in the lowland areas. It creates an environment for investment as it guarantees access to the landscape. Without similar reform here, we’re preventing the rural economy from being properly developed to its full potential, and condemning rural areas to further cycles of economic stagnation.

    Case in point. The missus and I walked the Offas Dyke path in Wales last year. All along that trail a thriving tourism sector flourished. Hotels, b&bs, cafés, shops, taxi services bringing walkers luggage to the next stopover. All existing because of that path, along which tens of thousands of people walk each year, like lifeblood flowing through otherwise remote rural areas. We spent well over £2k on a 2 week holiday, most of it going straight in to the many establishments we stopped at and bought services from. Needless to say, the local landowners and politicians are all for more countryside access. It equals jobs and allows local people to stay and bring up their families in the place they were born.

    On a smaller scale, and closer to home, take a trip to Scarva sometime and see how busy the cafe at the canal can become, all due to the fact that the Newry Canal Path attracts hundreds of walkers and cyclists, all seeking a nice day out in the countryside.

    Our politicians talk a good deal about thinking the unthinkable, but they exhibit little real imagination or willingness to do the things needed to improve our quality of life and economy.

  • Dan

    Air passenger duty

  • hugh mccloy

    Tourism is the way forward to bring outside money into the country, but its obvious the increase wont happen any time soon. There is no tourism strategy, OFMDFM pulled the tourism innovation fund last year which was for business to increase capacity and experience and outside of the Giants Causeway and Titanic not much else is promoted.

    Giro and tall ships are all fair and good but they are one off events. Game of thrones is massive but HBO seem to be the only ones getting a dividend end of that, look at Crotia, Spain and Iceland they are getting to be bigger destinations for GOT fans than N Ire.

    i went on a fam trip to Scotland last year, the long and short of it we are so far behind in developing experiences for tourism it is shocking.

    And as for the stats deti put out, I run a game of thrones tour and lets just say their figures dont add up one bit

  • Mister_Joe

    APD is really off putting. We visit every second year or so and used to fly Air Transat into Aldergrove. But they stopped flying there a few years ago because of the Duty and now only fly charters to Dublin.

  • notimetoshine

    Totally agree with you. Tourism development both in terms of infrastructure, events, attractions and a conducive economic infrastructure will take years if not longer. It needs long term strategic vision, something which our politicians rarely seem to possess on any subject.

  • chrisjones2

    Yes …but how do you solve it? Let them march?

  • chrisjones2

    Councils don’t do roads

    CAn you imagine the Council debate. The Towns a Sh**hole, what can we do. Railings on the canal! All in favour say “Aye”

  • Old Mortality

    And you forgot to mention our marvellous landscape with an ugly house in the corner of every field.

  • barnshee

    why would anyone in their right mind want to go from Derry to Belfast (or VV)

  • Practically_Family

    Tourism is brilliant, simply because you cannot kick tourists. At least you can, but it’ll annoy them. Factories, shops construction sites… You can kick ’em.

    The queues at travel agents all over Europe for a city break in Belfast are already forming.

    I anticipate murders over Titanic Centre tickets before the end of the season.

  • Practically_Family

    APD does not apply to long haul flights to/from NI.

  • Mister_Joe

    When they stopped flying to Belfast I called and asked why. They said that the fees were too high. If it’s not APD, it must be some other charge.

  • Practically_Family

    It’s the fact that the island now has an indisputed International hub airport in Dublin and several regional/feeder airports on the outskirts. From the operators point of view the political dividing line across the northern bit matters not a lot.

    In the past the competition between Aldergrove & Dublin was much greater as was the “distance” between the cities, no customs, no security issues and decent roads makes them lot closer today. Dublin has expanded, Aldergrove has contracted not least due to losing so much of it’s “workaday” traffic to City.
    In 90% of cases it’s not worth runnng two long haul flights over the same sector where the destinations are a couple of hours from each other by road. And before someone points to the United services to Newark which serve both Belfast & Dublin… Look at the (almost unique) equipment on the routes, if the ever get arond to using widebodies…

  • Gerrynearly

    Or ask them to just go home?

  • Brian O’Neill

    Sorelyboy that was a well crafted comment full of insight and good ideas. You sure you are on the right site? 😉 Only joking thanks for your contribution. If you ever want to expand on your ideas and write a post on them feel free to email me brian@sluggerotoole.com

  • PaulT

    yet it is unionists who are playing the victim card over the playground……………and over the fleg…………..and OO Marches…….and constant whinging about themuns getting everything………..and

  • barnshee

    “Our food products are the best in the world. The scenery is amazing”

    Suggest you spend a period in France compare and contrast Scenery and Food

  • John Collins

    Well Paterson, the British Parliamentary Minister, did not do a whole lot for the Ulster Fry when he described it as ‘a heart attack on a plate’. On a more serious note in my last holiday in the North in the Summer of 2012 I travelled the A2, I think, and I felt the displays of flags especially Loyalist ones was touching on the oppressive. Around the same time a South African friend of quiet recent Ulster extraction who made the same journey around the same time, expressed exactly the same reservations. Overall I found the people friendly, courteous and helpful but perhaps a slight pull back on the flag waving, on all sides, might just elp attract more visitors

  • kalista63

    Oopss……surely an economy needs jobs that produce disposable I come and tourism largely produces minimum wage and (increasingly) insecure work.

    We’ve got amazing land to produce finest meat products with rising nations who are developing a taste, now they can afford it, for premier products. Why don’t we incentivise farmers to feed that market rather than them being ripped off by the big supermarkets?

    As for teachers; who said that teachers who train here have to stay here? Did we become colonised by Cuba when I was asleep, last night? Ya know, it’s not even like they even have to go far as they have a serious need for good teachers over in GB, especially SE England.

    The parents of these students paid their taxes and have clearly done a good job in raising their child, neither parents nor student owe us anything.

    As a sixties kid who remembers the days (I’m talking about in Britain as this was presented to me by British media) when entire towns were the workforce for 1,2,3 or half a dozen firms or in large industries, I remember days of people working with pride. Jobs like tourism, save for managers, are not jobs to keep a family going, afford a decent house, have a decent car and have a holiday.

  • Reader

    I’m not sure that would work. But I suppose you could give it a try. You’ll be fine – apparently there’s always loads of police about.

  • kalista63

    Did you go to Baltimore because you watched The Wire or go to the desserts of New Mexico because you watched Breaking Bad.

    Northern Ireland is like an old dog, we piss ourselves when anyone strokes our belly.

  • Gerrynearly

    Is there even any evidence that there actually IS anyone inside the camp? Sure they won’t let any cameras in! My guess is they all went home a long time ago and just left everything behind them

  • Gerrynearly

    Fair point about young teachers, but what about teachers who can’t get a job but have ties here and can’t simply up sticks and move? Or who don’t want to? It took me a few attempts to get a place on a PGCE course (because of high demand for very few places) and people rountinely would ask me ‘why don’t you just move to England?’ to which I would answer ‘because I don’t want to live in England??’

  • barnshee

    Its their money old chap NI is in deficit
    Why not raise more locally
    An additional NI Income Tax say 10% on top of the existing
    Raise the rates by- oh say 20%
    Introduce water charges
    £1 a litre on red diesel
    Lots of scope

    No need to bother those English people and they can spend their money as they choose

  • barnshee

    Too many teachers?
    Shortage of graduates with IT skills?
    Poor career choices are not the states problem
    Where the state is stupid is continuing to add to the problem in churning out too many teachers

  • barnshee

    You (accurate) cynic

  • Practically_Family

    “Jons like tourism, save for managers, are not jobs to keep a family
    going, afford a decent house, have a decent car and have a holiday.”

    No, they’re not. And?

  • kalista63

    There’s no point in them, then. They do nothing but pad out the untruth that we are part of the first world economies.

  • barnshee

    “the job opportunities are for software development and accounting. Not great for a majority of job seekers.”

    Employers -the bastards they want good grade at entry into UNI and those nasty (accountant) employers want a 2.1 min in a relevant degree Wicked so it is

  • Practically_Family

    It also requires a degree of realism in terms of what can be expected.

    If you take Belfast as the nation’s hub, who do you aim to emulate? Dublin? Paris? Edinburgh? Milan? Berlin?

    We’re likely to be disappointed on all counts.

    But Hull (with access to Yorksire) or Maidstone (as a centre to explore Kent)… Bit more realistic and entirely achievable, if we’re not already there in fact. Surely, fun place to fish, golf or watch the motor bike racing. Cultural hub or general family holiday mecca? Not happening in this lifetime.

  • Practically_Family

    Of course we’re a first world economy, to suggest otherwise is just nonsense.

    Jobs at sub management level in any sector do not afford sufficient remuneration to have all of the things you suggest and the expectation that they do is why our youngsters are on the dole while Pavel from Gdansk is waiting tables in the Ballyshuckmagullion Arms.

  • Practically_Family

    “But what about teachers who can’t get a
    job but have ties here and can’t simply up sticks and move? Or who
    don’t want to”

    That’s why a Jobseekers Agreement has the wee section where you and your advisor agree* on how long you will spend looking for your “usual” work.

    *The advisor advises how long, you agree.

  • Gerrynearly

    Oh man, I know all about it. I couldn’t nail down teaching work so I just went and did something else (after as short a time on the dole as I could make it) until a teaching opportunity arose. I still don’t have a permanent job and I’m eight years qualified but my point is that I can’t just up sticks and move to wherever. I have commitments here and I’m sure a lot of other teachers are in the same boat so the whole ‘sure why don’t you just go England?’ Argument isn’t really valid

  • notimetoshine

    I suppose Belfast could model itself as a pint sized Glasgow. Of course I see events driven tourism as being the key, I just can’t see note than a limited appeal for a week in NI. Though a week or more in Ireland…. But that means cross border co operation which is controversial.

  • sorelyboy

    Thanks Brian, flattery will get you everywhere. I’ll keep the offer in mind, perhaps work something up over the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you’ve got absolutely nothing else to do, I blog a little bit on the topic of countryside access at http://walkni.blogspot.com. Nobody reads it but I find it helps me get things off my chest, good therapy etc.

  • kalista63

    Morpeth, a wee fek’n town in Northumbria, has more going for it than Belfast. There was a heart to Belfast but it was, largely, sacrificed when the wimmin wanted their multi national and GB shops and the evenings wrongly given to the wine bar, big club crowd. Yep, we also have the trad bars with trad culture and yep, the Easyjet mob love it but our prices are too high and the quality is way too low.

    I can do, have done, London with only a few quid in my pockets for a couple of days. I couldn’t begin to think of how I could do that in Belfast.

  • notimetoshine

    Good god things must be bad when morpeth (a horribke place IMHO).

    And what was the heart to Belfast? Frankly I love the big nationals finally here in NI. I just wish someone would get their finger out and get John lewis here.

    And what’s wrong with wine bars and the big clubs? That’s what people want. That’s what’s ‘in’.

    Comparing London with Belfast is a non sequitur. Like comparing an elephant with a mouse.

    I was never a huge fan of Belfast but its changing and there are some great venues. It just depends what you think should be offered.

  • Reader

    It’s better that people do something to contribute to the economy even if they aren’t really paying their way and the state has to fill in the gap.
    By the way, basing your definition on a “decent house” and “decent car” is a weakness in your argument. (I have a degree and I live in a first world economy so I want a 5 bedroom detatched house in its own grounds with a Ferrari for the weekend…)

  • Practically_Family

    From the point if view of tourism promoterers those with “only a few quid” in their pockets are as welcome as the dripping syph though.

    Belfast strikes me as being remarkable only in its almost total lack of anything remarkable.

  • Practically_Family

    Y’see I wouldn’t have thought Glasgow a particularly great tourist city. Football fans, sure. Constant, if seasonal cash cow. But tourists? Not really.

    It suffers from being surrounded by places not far away that are more appealing to someone seeking a bit of a get away, in that respect I can see some similarities with Belfast!

  • Practically_Family

    That probably means you’ve made a bad career choice I’m afraid.

  • Gerrynearly

    Maybe, but I think its more that I picked the wrong A-levels. I didn’t realise that if you wanted to teach my subject (Politics) that you really should do History as well so I didn’t pick History (because I didn’t like the teacher). Most Politics jobs it turns out are for History & Politics so if I’m up against a candidate who has a degree in History & Politics the school MUST legally give them the job over me. Too late to do anything about it now though. I remember a teacher in the school where I did my training saying ‘once you’re a teacher you become unemployable in anything else because the first question any employer will ask you is ‘why did you quit teaching, couldn’t hack it?. He wasn’t wrong

  • chrisjones2


    They did always do their best to cut costs on fuel . In fact they still hold the world record


  • kalista63

    I would call a decent house the kind of housing that was built in the 50’s and 60’s. I’ve no idea where the ideas came from that every child needs a room of their own and parents should have an en suite.

    As for a decent car, I actually am anti car but people seem to regard them as a necessity and they’ve never been cheaper or more reliable. It’s not a big thing to expect fo one’s labour…….what measure of a man etc?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I was gonna ask do we have a plan regarding tourism. Apparently we do: http://www.detini.gov.uk/ni_tourism_20100308-4.pdf

    I just scanned through it and I don’t understand it, it sounds like a spin doctor talking of his intention to talk.

    I don’t see why it needs to be so padded out, surely it’s quite simple?

    What do tourists want?
    They want a slightly less varnished (and cheaper) slice of the Irish pie. i.e. whiskey/booze, scenery, lively pubs and a bit of bloody intrigue lurking in the background (and Game of Thrones which funnily enough accommodates all of the above, apart from the lively pubs…).

    In order to implement this though we need other people on board e.g the relevant planning authorities and councils.

    Tourists want cosy pubs but councils want high rates and developers want to convert pubs into flats/houses for a quick buck.

    Tourists want to see nice rustic homesteads dotted around the country side but ‘replacement dwelling’ culture ensures that they’ll be bulldozed and replaced with a bungalow, e.g. check this out:

    At first glance that looks like a grip beyond repair.

    However, if that was done up sympathetically it would look awesome and the surrounding countryside would lend itself nicely for a weekend retreat.

    But instead it’ll be knocked down, a bungalow built and a few windmills will be erected.

    A potentially picturesque setting ruined. Hence less tourists. Hence lost potential revenue for the local hospitality industry.

    Also, I think some high up tourist positions should be given to ex-pats or foreigners as they see better than the locals what the lesser obvious attractive aspects of an area are (usually). For a fine example check the Grand Designs episode in Maghera https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTgwLCMzpjc.

    The camera couldn’t get enough shots of moss, rocks or gorse (I’m from thon neck of the woods and my memory of people’s attitude to gorse is “ach! That oul gorse! I’m gonna have tae burn it”), things that we perhaps would see no value in yet tourists would go “cool! Just what we wanted to see”.

    Simple things like preserving the old buildings, pubs and heritage is what will help put us on the map, destroying it all for a quick buck and temporary jobs will just make the place unattractive.

    We have all these lovely wee villages and lovely wee farms and small holdings, why not utilise them to their full potential?

    Belfast doesn’t need to have the city centre cowped and replaced with more faceless apartments just like every other boring city. Perhaps they could put a skyline protection zone in which will prohibit the building of office blocks in certain parts of the centre (and encourage them elsewhere) just to protect the architectural fabric a bit?

    Of course we need to make things easier for tourists too, such as transport.
    Also, can anyone explain why Guinness in Belfast Airport is a similar price to Guinness in Melbourne Airport?

    I think if we could tart up the old buildings, give rate relief to businesses so that there’s less empty shops, give rate relief to pubs, cafes, restaurants & hotels, encourage investment in things like distilleries (for instance Tasmania has more distilleries than Ireland, and we were once the whisky kings), sports utilities in forests (Davagh is a great example) and loughs then we might find Janet and Nigel from the Home counties popping over for a weekend of mountain biking, canoeing, whisky tasting and chainpub-free* pub crawl music sessions and spending their dosh.

    (*Incidentally, that’s a big advantage Belfast has over many of the cities in Britain; it is relatively free of the WetherYatesEdwardsTascaO’NeillsWalkaboutScreamSpoons chain pub scourge (so far)).

  • Reader

    kalista63: It’s not a big thing to expect fo one’s labour…….what measure of a man etc?
    Well, actually, one(*) measure of a man is what their labour is actually worth. If someone can’t earn £10 per hour for their employer then they probably aren’t going to take anything like that much home from their work. Maybe a more efficient (or subsidised) employer could afford more. Maybe Working Tax Credits and Housing Benefits will make up some of the difference.
    (*) Of course, there are alternative measures of human worth.
    As for the shopping list – maybe skip the holiday this year so as to be able to afford the car next year.

  • barnshee

    “I would call a decent house the kind of housing that was built in the 50’s and 60’s. I’ve no idea where the ideas came from that every child needs a room of their own and parents should have an en suite.”

    Er it took 4 moves to get “a decent house”– children of different gender kind of need separate rooms
    I suggest you share a house with 3 or 4 females in it. You will be begging for an “en suite”

    I still waiting for a decent car

    The problem is in expecting “decent” housing for day 1

  • Practically_Family

    Yeah, but we actually have to live here, and I don’t really want to live in a theme park.

    As far as the chain pub thing goes, I agree. But then I can go on a weekday binge drinking session in Leicester (with food) on £50. Not happening in Belfast. So a bit of a compromise on that front might be no bad thing.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    You don’t have to live in a theme park nor do you have to live in a land stripped of is architectural heritage and natural beauty

    Tourism can indeed be over-egged to the extent that it ramps up the cost of living and runs down areas but in the absence of other industries it’s not a bad safety net.