During a Scrutiny hearing, Chamber of Commerce chief executive Murray Norton warned that Brexit, housing issues, the falling value of the pound and improved economies in countries from which Jersey sources labour were making recruitment from overseas more difficult.
Senator Kristina Moore, who chairs the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, asked Mr Norton whether he was happy with the timetable of the Migration Policy Board, which has decided to produce the Island’s population policy by April next year – four years later than first planned.
Mr Norton said that uncertainty over the policy was making matters worse in what was already a ‘perfect storm’ for business in terms of recruitment problems.
‘Businesses we have spoken to this week have said “we are in crisis, right now – if we are going to have to wait until 2021, we are going to be out of business by then, because we can’t find people now”,’ he said.
‘Yes, the long term is what we are looking at with this, but there is also a short term. And the short-term feedback that we are getting is that businesses are not getting the licences or permissions that they were because of the overbearing pressure of population.
‘Even if they can get licences, they are unable to attract people for a variety of reasons – including Brexit, housing, the drop in the value of the Euro and, at the same time, in the traditional places which we would have gone for workers, the migrants are staying at home because their economies are the fastest-growing economies in Europe. There are a lot of small reasons creating a perfect storm for businesses at the moment.’
During a series of Scrutiny hearings with the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, concerns have been raised over the lack of diversity and representation on the Migration Policy Board, including its shortage of young members, or representatives of Jersey’s large Polish and Portuguese communities, which run many businesses.
The board is made up of chairman Assistant Chief Minister Chris Taylor, Social Security Minister Judy Martin, Environment Minister John Young, Senator Sarah Ferguson, Deputy Rowland Huelin, Dr Michael Oliver, Mr Norton on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and John Shenton of the Institute of Directors.