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Clive McMinn, Chairman of the Confederation of Guernsey Industry, voiced his concerns that far more information is needed and additional research required before a decision of such magnitude is taken.

‘In this era of financial constraints and belt-tightening, there has to be a clear business case that a runway extension offers value for money and that all alternatives are considered.

A key component of this is how the States proposes to recover the costs which is certainly not going to be through tourism. One should also examine the effect of an increase in air traffic on Aurigny, which as we are aware, is continuing to incur significant losses for the taxpayer,’ Clive added.

REPRESENTATIVES of the Guernsey Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of Guernsey Industry, the Construction Industry Forum and the Property Forum met with the Committee for Home Affairs on Thursday 23 March to discuss the forthcoming Population Management and Control Law and the economic impact that it would have on Guernsey going forward.

It was noted that there was much within the law to commend, however further consideration needs to be given to lower skilled workers. The five year limit for lower skilled workers is a big departure from custom and practice within the seasonal working sector and formed one of the key concerns of the representatives present.

The discussion was both wide ranging and forthright, ranging from an ageing demographic, to the uncertain impact of Brexit. The consensus of the representatives is that the law as it is currently drafted does not take into account longer term economic impacts of the proposals, and that implementation of the law should be delayed.

The fundamental issue is that the economic circumstances that existed when this law was initially proposed and being drafted are very different to those being faced by Guernsey today.

There is considerable uncertainty surrounding Brexit, immigration visas, and the potential impact that it will have on Guernsey and it is vital that Guernsey remains totally flexible to accommodate change and secure its own future.

It is our recommendation that the States of Deliberation reject the Population Management and Control Law, as currently drafted, and that they instruct the Committee for Home Affairs to revisit the law with a view to introducing simple, understandable legislation that reflects the needs of both the business and wider community and takes into account the uncertainties facing Guernsey in the light of Brexit and changed economic circumstances.

GUERNSEY is in grave danger of damaging its way of life unless it changes the proposed population management legislation.

The stark warning comes from the Confederation of Guernsey Industry, which says that the new law on short-term employment permits will open a ‘skills drain’, leaving island businesses chronically short of trained and experienced staff.

And that will impact all those employers offering cleaning, catering, care, hospitality and other vital services to islanders, says CGi chairman Clive McMinn.

He is seeking an urgent meeting with Committee for Economic Development president Deputy Peter Ferbrache to press for a fresh look at elements of the new law and believes other business associations support the CGi’s concerns.

‘The people who are affected by this are classed as unskilled, but they are not. They are absolutely essential to Guernsey’s economy,’ said Clive. Unless the law is amended, the infrastructure and the way of life of the island is in peril.’

That is because so many businesses rely on the skill and knowledge of seasonal staff who work here for nine months, leave for three and then return for a further nine months.

Many have been doing so for years and that level of training and experience cannot be replaced by recruiting new people ‘off the street’, even if they could be found. The new population management regime allows for a fresh annual application for the same individual up to a maximum of five years, after which they cannot return, and the CGi says some staff have already received letters warning they have reached their five-year limit.

As a result, many other employees are already approaching the end of their five-year maximum, or else part-way through it, and are questioning whether there is any point working here at all, said Clive.

This uncertainty is compounded by the Brexit-linked fall in the value of sterling, making wages here less attractive for guest workers making it even harder for Guernsey to recruit the staff it needed.

He rejects suggestions that the CGi was consulted on the proposed population changes. ‘Individual members may have been, but we as a body were not,’ he said, ‘and in any event, we now see that the views of industry have been ignored.

‘We only realised that when the proposals were published, hence the urgency to address this potentially catastrophic draining of skills from the Guernsey economy.’

The CGi, which says the hospitality sector raised these concerns last year but was also ignored, has written to all deputies outlining the difficulties and urging a delay in implementing the regime for further consideration of the five-year rule.

‘We had just five responses,’ said Clive, ‘which is why we are looking to take this up with Deputy Ferbrache and Economic Development because the risk to the island’s economy is so widespread and risks turning the restaurant and hotel sector into a second class industry.’

These fears also reflect feedback from care homes, the care industry generally, growers, light industry, construction, retail and the financial and general service sector.

‘We have even lost the safety net of the open market,’ said Mr McMinn, because the five-year rule also applies to short-term staff living there.

He also rejects claims that amending the five-year rule will increase the size of Guernsey’s population. ‘We are talking about people who want to work here, not settle here, he said.

THE Confederation of Guernsey Industry has called on the States to consider changes to the new Population Management Law being introduced in the spring of 2017 to prevent an outflow of skilled, seasonal workers from the island.

In a letter written to all Deputies, new CGi Chairman, Clive McMinn, urges them to reconsider the decision to restrict staff from outside the island to a maximum stay of five years.

‘In our discussions with member firms, it is clear that in many sectors of industry employers are greatly concerned the consequences this Law will have on the recruitment and retention of employees on short term licences.’

‘Many businesses have established a stable workforce of staff whose repeated returns to the island over many years have enabled them to become skilled and valued workers. Recruitment from other jurisdictions is becoming increasingly difficult and it is important we do not prevent the continued return of those who have been coming here to work and make a positive contribution to the economy.’

Mr McMinn added that particular sectors could be hit particularly hard.

‘Businesses that employ care-home staff, HGV drivers, the hospitality and tourist industry and horticulture for example, rely on a workforce that now faces an uncertain future to the detriment of our economy at a time when Guernsey is facing considerable economic challenges.’

‘We are therefore asking for the States to support our proposal to reconsider that relevant part of the law or at least delay its implementation.’

WHEN I sat down to write this, my last Chairman’s Report, I was under the impression 2016 had been relatively quiet year with the exception of course of the election in April.

However looking at many items of correspondence it became clear that the Confederation of Guernsey industry had been busy representing the interests of its members and the Island in general in many different forms.

Early in 2016 The States of Guernsey had formed what was known as Economic Engagement Forum. This consists of a group of representative from many of the Island's business sectors and through this forum we are continuously updated on the performance of the island’s economy and all the factors which affect it.

Obviously in June one of the key topics was the U.K.’s decision to withdraw from the EU. Guernsey was well prepared in advance for which ever outcome resulted from the referendum.

With the new assembly came ideas and suggestions from some of the new committees. One of these was the suggestion that GST should be introduced on the cost of legal services. Due to pressure exerted by the G4 of which the CGI is a member, this suggestion was withdrawn by the Minister for Economic Development.

The CGI have attended a number of meetings with Blue Islands, Aurigny, and consumer meetings with Condor. Each company has endeavoured to address its shortcomings but connectivity with the other islands and with the UK still falls short of the requirements of business, tourist and domestic travellers.

Work on CSR initiatives continued to progress with computer coding clubs being formed at St Martin’s and Castel Primary Schools. We thank Fultura Ltd for providing technical support that enabled these clubs to be formed. The computer clubs in the high schools continue to flourish and we shall continue to support them as appropriate.

The Guernsey School of Popular Music approached the CGI in early 2016 for support to provide after-school tuition services for students wishing to learn to play stringed and keyboard instruments. With help from the Confederation of Guernsey Industry, various obstacles have been overcome and clubs are now flourishing in two High schools.

The Confederation of Guernsey Industry mentored a sixth form student from the Grammar School in connection with his technology project.

This was very successful and Jack Taylor, the student, is now enjoying a five year apprenticeship with Jaguar Landrover Ltd in the UK.

Guernsey faces many challenges to meet the aspirations of P and R's ’happy and more economically viable island.’ The CGI will continue to represent the interests of its members wherever possible now and in the future.

This is my last report as Chairman of the CGi and I would like to thank all of you for the advice and support that I have received over the last three years.

Larry Granger

Larry was Guest of Honour at last night’s St Sampson’s School Records of Achievement and Awards in front of students, teachers and parents.

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In addition to presenting awards and certificates to over 100 students of ‘The Class of 2016’, Larry paid tribute in his speech to the dedication, hard work and professionalism of the pupils in Year 11 at the school.

Larry told students in the packed hall that their success represents the true spirit of St Sampson’s High School and encouraged them to continue to show determination in all future endeavours, which would bring success.

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Awards ranged from those in music, media, physical education and the creative arts, along with community, services to the school and for showing effort and determination. The President of the School Committee Award for Overall Excellence went to Thomas Rylatt, who was head boy at the school last year.

Mrs Annabel Bolt, Head teacher, introduced the evening, which featured music performed by GCSE students, speeches by Tom Rylatt and head girl, Charlotte Zabiela, together with introductions to each pupil prior to receiving their award by their form teachers.

 

The CGi has extended its support of coding clubs in the island’s high schools for the last three years into two primary schools – Castel and St Martin’s.

The partnership has seen teachers pick up the subject with the support of technology professionals, who lead the sessions and work with the pupils.

CGi chairman Larry Granger said the projects in the secondary and primary schools had been an outstanding success.

‘We have had more than 100 students in high schools go through the coding clubs,’ he said.
‘Digital is here to stay, these skills will be needed in the future, and we are trying to create the opportunity for young people.

‘Students in the clubs are already progressing at a challenging rate and even at their tender ages they are eager to demonstrate their achievements and showcase the school’s success.’

The primary scheme is supported by CGi member firm Fultura.