At some Jersey car parks, when they are full, drivers sit at the barriers facing a red light. When a car exits, the light turns green, the barrier lifts and you enter to find a place.
This process resembles the new immigration policy, where it has been proposed that 325 net immigrants per year will now be a hard, controlled number. Each year, whenever that number is now reached, the next person will wait in line for a ‘green light’ , just like a car park.
Taking this analogy further, monitoring car park capacity when full is easy – one out, one in. For Jersey this new approach assumes that systems and controls are in place to capture exits and that they also take into account return of everyone with right of abode (estimates range from 12,000 to 25,000 at any given time) who can slip around the barrier at any time.
While there are questions as to how, (and indeed if), the system can work, there are bigger questions:
- 325 net immigrants equates to 150 heads of households or jobs. Does this number add up to the many initiatives underway to drive economic growth, not least Digital Jersey?
- The last period of economic growth, saw inward migration levels above 1200 per year – so will the new policy impair growth now? This is especially a concern in the digital sector where the island currently lacks essential skills. We are currently working to improve the education and skills situation so that in time we can supply our own ‘homegrown’ expertise. However, in the beginning stages of developing a new industry it is essential that we bring in off-island expertise to help us to do this.
- Lastly, from an off-island view, what does this 325 number say? Does it say “Jersey is open for business?”
As we look to share these views with government we would appreciate hearing directly from industry.
Please let us know what you think through any of our usual channels.
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