COLLABORATION

Bracing for economic impact: Ulster & PwC prepare students for Brexit success

SOURCE: Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP
Protesters wave EU and Union flags as they gather for a march and rally organised by "The People's Vote" in Brighton, on the south coast of England on September 21, 2019.

As Brexit uncertainty looms heavy over all UK economies, nowhere is this felt more than Northern Ireland. The region has so far been treated as little more than a bargaining chip in the EU-UK fiasco.

The uncertainty as to whether there will be a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit growing stronger by the day, the economy of the area has been taking a beating.

On Sunday, forecasts for economic growth in Northern Ireland were revised downwards. According to predictions from Danske Bank, the economy will grow by less than one percent this year even if a no-deal can be avoided. A weaker global environment and the EU divorce were listed as drivers of the modest rate of expansion.

“Assuming that a no-deal Brexit is avoided, we expect the Northern Ireland economy to grow by 0.9 percent in 2019 and 1 percent in 2020, below the 1.2 percent we expect UK GDP to grow by in both years,” Danske chief economist Conor Lambe, told Belfast Telegraph.

Brexit Northern Ireland
Activists hold placards and wave EU flags as during an anti-government protest calling for the Prime Minister’s resignation, outside Downing Street in central London on September 7, 2019.

“A combination of strong wage growth and more stable inflation is likely to lead to solid growth in consumer spending, but the lack of clarity around the UK’s future relationship with the EU is expected to continue holding back business investment.”

Given the tricky future ahead, there’s no better time then to be investing in the skills and employability of Northern Ireland’s young people and professionals. And that’s exactly what Ulster University plans to do with its new three-year partnership focused on employability, skills and the future of work.

The university is teaming up with the multinational professional services network PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PwC, to provide strategic development opportunities for students and PwC staff, focusing on upskilling and preparing them for employment and education challenges.

YOU MIGHT LIKE

“As an academic institution with a firm eye on the future of our economy, working in collaboration with PwC will provide a significant and positive boost for our students, staff and the wider skills base of Northern Ireland,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Ulster University, Professor Paul Bartholomew, said in a statement.

“Our economy is changing rapidly, with new skills required for both the short and longterm and this association will seek to address those needs.”

This isn’t the first time Ulster has teamed up with PwC. The new initiative builds on their longstanding relationship in which they became the first in the UK to deliver a Masters in Professional Services Operational Delivery.

The latest offering will build on the success of this programme and help Ulster’s students and professionals take their career to the next level in these uncertain times.

Brexit Northern Ireland
Anti-Brexit protesters with signs and EU flags lit up with fairy lights demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London on September 9, 2019 as MPs debate.

“Through our renewed collaboration, PwC will continue our commitment to helping Ulster University students develop key employability skills that are essential to their future success,” said PwC deals partner and NI student recruitment lead, Lynne Rainey.

“Our economy will undergo a great deal of change over the next couple of decades with AI and automation set to become central to our workforce operations.

“With this economic shift already well underway, many jobs are being re-defined, therefore it is crucial that the workforce of the future is educated, prepared and ready to evolve in line with technological advancements. Preparing students and staff for these changes is central to our partnership with Ulster University.”