WEST Belfast was given a major boost on Tuesday with the announcement of 200 new jobs.
Caterpillar, the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives, is creating the jobs in its back office department.
Following its acquisition of local engineering firm FG Wilson in 1999, it has Northern Ireland bases in Belfast, Newtownabbey and Larne.
The jobs boost comes just months after FG Wilson announced the loss of 760 jobs due to production of its 400 series generator sets moving to Tianjin, China, to build the product closer to its growing customer base.
The full extent of the redundancies was revealed in September 2012.
The latest investment is being supported by Invest Northern Ireland, which has offered Caterpillar £1.275million towards the plan to create an additional 200 shared services positions in Northern Ireland.
The Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) has also offered training support of £440,000 under its Assured Skills programme.
Robert Kennedy, Caterpillar Northern Ireland Operations Director, said: “As a global company, Caterpillar has to regularly evaluate key areas of business in order to remain internationally competitive.
“With the support from Invest NI and the government departments as well as the availability of key, essential skills in the professional shared services area, we are pleased to announce Northern Ireland as the location of choice for this expansion of services.”
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “This is a very positive announcement for Caterpillar which demonstrates confidence in the Northern Ireland proposition at a time of increasing competitiveness in global markets.
“Last year, Invest NI’s Alastair Hamilton and I travelled to the US and met with Caterpillar senior management to specifically discuss the company’s future plans in Northern Ireland. This investment project was discussed as part of that meeting.”
The minister said that since then, the team at Invest NI had “worked tirelessly” to secure the shared services positions for Northern Ireland – and ensure they were not lost to other potential locations in Europe.
Dr Stephen Farry, Minister for Employment and Learning, said that the investment by Caterpillar “demonstrates confidence” in Northern Ireland’s local skills base.
He added the jobs boost will “offer important employment and training opportunities in a variety of key business areas including finance and human resources.”
“The flexibility that my Department’s Assured Skills programme offers to companies like Caterpillar gives Northern Ireland an edge when competing with other regions. Assured Skills funding will ensure that the company has the support necessary for essential training initiatives and skills development activities.”