An IT firm has announced plans to double its Scottish workforce over the next three years by creating 500 jobs.
French company Capgemini, which already employs about 500 people in the Highlands, will bring a further 500 jobs to Inverness and the surrounding area by 2016.
First Minister Alex Salmond said Capgemini’s inward investment was “a clear reflection of the huge international appeal of the Highlands’ skilled and dedicated workforce”.
The company’s expansion follows a meeting between Mr Salmond and the firm’s chief executive Paul Soutter at the Scottish Open in Inverness nine months ago.
Mr Salmond said: “It is truly immense for Inverness. These are highly skilled, high-value jobs.”
The initiative is supported by £4.25 million of regional selective assistance (RSA) funding from Scottish Development International, and a training grant of £1m from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The company’s expansion in the city will involve moving premises and creating skilled IT, management and other posts.
The RSA grant scheme is aimed at encouraging businesses to make investments that will result in the creation or safeguarding of jobs in Scotland.
Mr Soutter said: “We have long found Scotland to be a purposeful, dynamic and productive environment for business so that by significantly expanding our activities here, we are building upon a strong record of proven success.
“The new jobs will be at the heart of today’s knowledge-based economy and will help prove Scotland’s ability to compete and win in global markets.”
Capgemini will leave its existing base to re-establish itself in HIE’s base in Inverness.
HIE, meanwhile, is expected to set up home at a new Inverness Campus business park being developed.
Highland Council leader Drew Hendry said: “I welcome this announcement today and the major boost to the local economy which the new jobs at Capgemini will provide.
“The Highland Council places economic recovery as its number one priority and this is a further sign that Inverness and the Highlands can play a key role in attracting inward investment to Scotland.
“We look forward to working with Capgemini to assist their recruitment process and provide opportunities for our young people in particular.
“Their announcement follows the confirmation earlier this month that US company, Daktari is to locate its global manufacturing base in Inverness, creating more than 120 jobs.
“These announcements demonstrate the benefit of showcasing our people and community through high-profile events, such as the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.
“We are delighted that the attractiveness of doing business here is being recognised internationally through long-term investment and jobs.”