DFP analyst says jobless workers constrained to city

The director of analysis at the Department of Finance says job seekers in Londonderry are “very much constrained” to the city due to poor transport links beyond it.

Dr Tracy Power told a briefing of the Stormont Employment Committee within the last fortnight that this is not the case in places like neighbouring Coleraine.

“They have a wide search area; some are even prepared to come to Belfast,” she said.

“We think that that is because of the good rail links with Coleraine; they open people’s minds perceptually, in terms of the areas where they will search for work.”

Dr Power, a former chief statistician at DEL, went on to say that the jobs to people ratio is going to increase here over the next decade.

“The official population projections show that Antrim, Belfast and Derry local government districts will have more jobs than people, so they will be importing areas. This projection is up to 2024.”

DEL strategy director Colin Jack told the Committee businesses and their staff are more attracted to places like Londonderry now due to improvements in the quality of life and cultural offering wrought by UK City of Culture 2013.

“In a lot of the feedback from globally based companies, particularly those that are involved in the knowledge economy, there is a big emphasis on the quality of life and the range of cultural and other activities that are available for the staff whom they might bring in from abroad and, indeed, if you want to get employees from outside the region.

“Work such as that in the north-west to build on the City of Culture is supporting the efforts to attract investment to Derry, and anything in that area is helpful for Belfast as well.”