Today's Titanic Industry
Published Wednesday, 11 April 2012
At the start of the 20th century the area around the Titanic quarter was the engine room for Belfast's economic growth. Now in the 21st century...
This area of city is trying to tap into that same entrepreneurial spirit that made it a manufacturing powerhouse.
We're no longer building ships, instead we're building software.
In total over two thousand people work in the Titanic Quarter, with the technology sector among the biggest employer. Not bad for an area that was more or less wasteland 15 years ago.
The Northern Ireland Science Park is on the boundary. It has six buildings and 108 tenants.
Its aim is to encourage start up companies as well as attract established ones. It's supposed to be like an innovation eco-system. The theory is if you have a cluster of companies together, they'll support each other and generate a huge amount of expertise.
Mervyn Watley from the Science Park says the area makes sense for technology entrepreneurs "You could have a single start-up, a 1 person company, standing in the queue getting their sandwich at lunch, with someone from Microsoft or IBM, and that is a real good environment to be starting a company in."
With the people I speak to, there's no doubt about the sense of potential for the technology sector here. But ironically there's one problem which could hold the speed of its growth back. A skills shortage. There are not enough people training in the correct areas.
It's partly a side effect of the dot.com bust in the late 1990s. People like me for example, who are now in their late 20s or early 30s who may have considered going into the tech sector were put off.
In fact, in my law class at Queens University there was a least one person who switched from computer science because they were worried about their job prospects.
Organisations like the Science Park are hopeful the supply issue will only be short-lived once the message about the available jobs gets out.