Concerned about the possible introduction of further barriers to immigration, a local business guru is encouraging everyone to remember the benefits immigrants bring to the island as well as the pitfalls for the island to find itself on "the wrong side of other countries walls".
While Kevin Keen agrees population and immigration need to be managed, future policies will fail, he says, if the government doesn't try and understand the way the population is changing first.
The Express columnist explains...
"Population and immigration is a big issue for Jersey, seems like it always has been. 25 years ago politicians of the day decided to cap the population at 85,000 and now with a population of 106,000 we have the Migration Policy Development Board working on how to reduce immigration as the solution to population growth.
Pictured: "I really don’t think we have yet properly understood the problem we are trying to solve," Mr Keen says.
I worry about the latest approach because there are already plenty of barriers to immigration, and I really don’t think we have yet properly understood the problem we are trying to solve.
At the last census in 2011 only half of the people living in Jersey were born here, about the same as 2001 and 1991. In 2011 about a third were from the UK and Ireland with the balance coming from far and wide. Like most countries over the years Jersey has benefited greatly from importing the people we need to make Jersey work.
In a recent article in the Economist magazine Michael Clemens from the Centre for Global Development noted that “If everyone who wanted to migrate were able to do so, global GDP would double”.
In spite of this many countries seem to be building walls either physical or regulatory and losing the benefits properly managed immigration can bring.
Pictured: "When Brexit happens we may find ourselves the wrong side of other countries walls."
Jersey people also want the opportunity to live and work outside of the Island. Our young people can benefit from the experience and knowledge gained living and working in a bigger place and some older folk want to retire to sunnier, cheaper places. Sadly some islanders also need to move away because the career they want to pursue is not available in Jersey or living here is just too expensive.
When Brexit happens we may find ourselves the wrong side of other countries walls.
The table below (drawn from reports by Statistics Jersey) compares population and job numbers in 2001 with 2018. I think it makes interesting reading. There are 25% more people of pensionable age and this is set to increase further, which in turn will require more care workers.
Pictured: A comparison of population and job numbers between 2001 and 2018.
There are a lot more people of working age than jobs, 10,000 more. Why? Is it child-care issues stopping women working? Are there more unemployed than the published figures state? Or is it early retirees? There are certainly fewer jobs in hospitality, retail and agriculture.
The sectors that in my view have unfairly borne the brunt of Government’s previous failed policies to control population growth, accused of being low value, low skilled etc.
Of course we need to manage our population and therefore immigration, but if we are to have more success than previous failed attempts, we really need to properly understand why and how our population is changing. It is not just about immigration.
Given around half of the people who live in Jersey were not born here they could tell fellow islanders who were, about the sacrifices it can take to move to Jersey and the benefits immigrants bring in their respective ways to our wonderful Island."
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