Having looked at inward investment’s contribution to our digital economy, I would like to explain the driving forces for recent employment trends by looking at the bigger picture.
As noted in ‘Defining Digital’, the June 2016 Manpower Returns found some 2,650 people to be employed in the digital sector, a sizeable increase of 28% since 2010. Of this increase, just 40 of the island’s 500 plus digital businesses accounted for 91% of employment growth. Given their notable value to the sector, it is important to understand the nature of these 40 businesses and in which service areas they operate, to enable us to identify digital industries we should support and promote.
The figures showed that of the employment growth attributed to these 40 businesses, 27% was derived from start-ups, 17% from relocations and the remaining 47% from other businesses established prior to 2010. Between these 40 companies, the biggest increase by a single company was 94 staff and the smallest was 4, with the median being 8 staff. These figures give a valuable insight into the dynamics of the sector while illustrating just how significant the contribution of start-ups and foreign direct investment is to our digital sector.
Developing on this, the three major areas of change have been in the Digital Creative industry, Enterprise Solutions, App and Software Development, and within the existing Telecoms and Networks sub-sector. The recent relocation of Specsavers’ digital department to Jersey is just one example of the Digital Creative industry’s growth on-island, and a key example of the Telecoms and Networks sub-sector’s diversification is JT’s international expansion into markets from Australia to Canada on the back of its e-kit success and development of its M2M and mobile intelligence services. As for the significant growth of Enterprise Solutions Businesses, this can be seen as a result of the large number of global professional service firms here and their need for new technologies that reduce the cost burden of new regulations whilst improving productivity.
It is encouraging to see such an increase in employment and diversification within the digital sector. Of course, there is always room to achieve more, and Digital Jersey would like to see further business and employment growth in both our established focus areas and export-led industries. We are currently moving in this direction by working to remove barriers to digital businesses’ success in Jersey (such as accessing digital talent), working closely with Locate Jersey on business relocations, and also working with Jersey Business to provide support for start-ups.