Working in Belfast
Since Belfast became a major industrial city, it has been a centre for the linen, tobacco production and shipbuilding industries among others. At the start of the 20th century, Belfast was actually the largest city on the island of Ireland until it was usurped by Dublin. In the modern era, Belfast is just like any other thriving UK city with a number of redevelopment projects having taken place in recent years.
The aforementioned peace breakthrough was just the news that investors needed. They came to Belfast in their droves and within a few years, the city centre was transformed. There are few places in the UK where employment opportunities have increased with greater speed. In the last 10 years, employment within the city has risen by over 16%, almost twice the UK average. The unemployment rate within the city is just over 4%, well below the UK average. For decades, the price of houses was exceptionally low in the city. They have finally risen in recent times with 2007 seeing a 50% price increase. However, this has only brought prices in line with other UK cities.
The recent peace process has also done wonders for the city’s tourism industry. Almost 7 million people visit Belfast each year with this figure rising by almost 8% each year. Almost £350 million is spent by tourists per annum and thanks to the two international airports, Belfast is now one of the most visited cities in Europe by weekend adventurers. Overall, Belfast has the fastest growing economy of any of the top 30 UK cities over the last 10 years. A remarkable amount of foreign investment is reaching the city each year and despite the recent economic downturn, there are no signs of this foreign interest waning.
The distinct cultural differences between the various communities living in Belfast have only served to enhance the overall culture of the city. Although the city failed in its bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2008, arts and cultural events are attended by almost 2 million people in the city each year. The Ulster Orchestra is the only orchestra in Northern Ireland and one of the UK’s highest rated. The Grand Opera House is a fantastic building and can hold over 1,000 people. It is used for musical, comedy and educational events.
Although Belfast is a thriving industrial city, there are a number of parks and gardens to be enjoyed. This is primarily because the city is surrounded by mountains which create a special micro-climate conducive to horticultural growth. The Botanic Gardens attracts more than 700,000 visitors per year and contains an array of beautiful flowers. It has also played host to a number of concerts with U2 playing there in 1997.
Overall, Belfast manages to mix the hustle and bustle of city life with the tranquillity of the countryside. It is one of the best UK cities when it comes to finding employment with numerous jobs available in the busy IT industry and financial sectors.
Also check out Living in Belfast and History of Belfast, or view our Belfast Jobs