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McCann questions value for money approach to InvestNI retraining grants

5 November, 2009 - by Jennifer McCann


Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee member, Jennifer McCann MLA (West Belfast) has voiced concern about InvestNI’s allocation of substantial retraining grants to multi-billion pound conglomerates when 95% of jobs here in the North are provided by indigenous SME’s.



Ms McCann said:


“Today the Minister announced investment in retraining by BT for employees in Derry and Enniskillen supported by a £2million grant from InvestNI so that they can adapt to new technologies in service provision that will accommodate social networking such as ‘Twitter’.


“While I am all in favour of upskilling and retraining the workforce in emerging technologies, I must ask, is this the best value for money for InvestNI? £2million for BT a multi-national company to retrain its existing staff in new technology, considering this is something that it would have to do anyway if it wishes to remain competitive. Does anyone believe that without this handout from InvestNI that BT could not afford this retraining or would not - in its own interests- retrain its staff in the workings of new communications technologies anyway? After all it is a communications company!

“The statement claims this investment 'helped to drive BT’s decision to locate its national digital customer care centres here'. From my reading of this announcement BT are not locating any additional 'Centres' here, it is merely upgrading the training of existing staff in Derry and Enniskillen in service provision - something any employer would surely consider a worthwhile investment in future proofing its viability as a major provider in its particular field.


“I would suggest that given that 95% of jobs here are provided by indigenous SME’s that this type of funding would be better value for money if invested in local companies that are struggling for survival in the present climate, to upskill and retrain staff, rather than to a company the size of BT that surely is capable of self financing retraining in an area which is of self interest and which its shareholders would no doubt expect them to do.” CRÍOCH

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