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Opinion

Sink or swim?

Sink or swim?

Monday 08 March 2021

Sink or swim?


What ‘legacy issues’ will the current government leave for the next generation?

Last month, 17-year-old Kenan Bryan reported how 18, out of a straw poll of 20, people at his school expected to leave Jersey.

15 of them gave the reason as the cost of housing or of living.

How many local children have wealthy parents who can help them with housing, even if only for their retirement? If they don’t leave the island, what work might they be expected to do?

developer app technology digital

Pictured: "A third of local jobs is expected to be lost to technology in twenty years’ time."

A third of local jobs is expected to be lost to technology in 20 years’ time. More will be lost if local industries decline. The median age of islanders is 52, so there should be no shortage in demand for care workers at least. 

The pay of most carers hardly matches finance industry salaries in meeting housing costs. But our local finance industry is a punctured life raft, that Government is aspiring to keep afloat with FinTech, under a ‘raft’ of regulation, while global competition (including lower labour costs) threatens to overwhelm it completely. 

If you think embracing technology is the answer, brace yourself. The decentralisation of finance (‘DeFi’) threatens to disintegrate it. Platforms already are being created in more technologically advanced jurisdictions.

Our older islanders may be resistant to change but that won’t stop change happening. Riding the global demand for artificial intelligence and technology, the rapidly growing and data-driven ‘New Economy’ operates on a completely different scale and basis to the business models most islanders know. So does the amount of investment needed to compete. 

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Pictured: How will the global demand for artificial intelligence and technology affect the "struggling tourism industry"?

How will this affect the struggling tourism industry, already losing sites to luxury housing development? Who will be the local employers of tomorrow, if not care homes and government itself? Will the salaries of public sector and care workers (and subsidies for the rents keeping property owners in care homes) be funded by importing even more wealthy immigrants and encouraging even more luxury property development? 

If so, what does the island have to offer tomorrow’s youth other than a retirement colony with pretty scenery swamped by non-affordable housing?   

The ‘blue sky thinking’ report of the Economic Council published last December explains the most obvious parachute for the island’s economy is to have a slice of the New Economy pie. The world that is being transformed by technology needs even more of it to address issues like climate change. We need people here who not only know how to create and commercialise such technology but who will advise other islanders how to do so. 

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Pictured: "What does the island have to offer tomorrow’s youth other than a retirement colony... swamped by non-affordable housing?"

When States Members debate a population policy at the end of the year, they need to focus on a vision of a future that is sustainable for all islanders, looking forward, not back. A future in the New Economy supported by a sea change in island culture and mindsets, judicious immigration and recruitment policies and changes in local education and training.   

A future that gives the island’s children a future in the island. 

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