Population & Immigration
This is a huge issue and not one easily solved. I do not believe, however, that the policy mooted by the present Council of Ministers will work, as it’s effectively a ponzi scheme. If the present trend continues, our population will increase by 26,000 by 20135. What is clear is that this is an issue that has not been given the attention it merits, so many questions remain unanswered.
I would like to see
Full, detailed, integrated studies looking at what we now and in 10, 20, 30 years’ time; who is arriving now and what skills/value they bring to the Island; who is leaving and what skills/value they take with them; what skills are we lacking and how can we attract them; how to entice key workers over when, for example, rental rates are so high; how much needs to be built (and how much empty stock we have); and what we consider to be a balance between population density and a healthy, pleasant environment for Islanders and visitors.
Modelling of strategies such as a new Work Permit system, based on Employer Petitions coupled with a Points System for measurable skills. As well as modelling, we can look at similar jurisdictions and see what they have done (or not) and how their policies have worked (or not). We must also model scenarios such as losing some or much of our finance industry, or key agricultural workers, for example.
External controls, such as travel, work and residence permits, will not do it alone, so we also need to reduce the Island’s dependency on imported labour by educating, training, equipping and ‘skilling up’ the native workforce. This can be done through curriculum changes, more apprenticeships, adding degree courses to University College Jersey and helping fund distance learning courses (which may or may not require time spent in the UK/France).
Finally, this issue affects us all, and it must not be left to one department to handle: we need inter-departmental collaboration and a sense of ‘this is for the Island as a whole and is not just about me’ approach.