Local skills shortage ‘is a bigger worry than Brexit’
A SKILLS shortage is a bigger worry than Brexit for Channel Islands business – and needs to be addressed for the sake of the economy.
Research by accountancy firm Moore Stephens has found that the availability of skilled workers is a priority topic for owner-managed businesses here – unlike in the UK, where the main worry is Brexit.
‘The focus of CI businesses on skills could be down to it being more challenging for the Channel Islands to bring skilled professionals to the islands or to train our own. Of course, this situation could also become even more difficult post-Brexit,’ said Phillip Callow, managing director at Moore Stephens Audit & Assurance, pictured.
Half of Channel Islands OMBs consider a shortage of skilled staff as a key concern compared with 41% of businesses in the UK – although in other areas, firms expressed similar concerns. While 60% of OMBs were confident in the general outlook for 2018, three-quarters in the Channel Islands were concerned about the strength of the UK economy this year compared with 78% in the UK.
‘Our report shows confidence is lacking around the stability of the UK economy, which in itself brings uncertainty,’ added Mr Callow.
‘OMBs need certainty to be able to develop their business and will be hit harder if the economy suffers once the UK leaves the European Union.
‘This uncertainty could be the reason why only 20% of Channel Island OMBs are planning to invest in new technology or IT systems. This shows that issues surrounding Brexit and business are not isolated; they have knock-on effects.
‘These figures give a voice to smaller businesses that might not otherwise be heard – if we would like to continue to support our economy, we should support Channel Island owner-managed businesses to alleviate the shortages in skilled staff as this is clearly more of a concern than Brexit.’
Olly Duquemin, Resolution IT joint managing director, said the findings were borne out by experience in the technology sector.
‘It’s an extremely competitive industry with a lack of staff with the right skills, hampering its development,’ he said.
‘It’s worrying to note that their research shows only 20% of Channel Islands OMBs are planning to invest in new technology or IT systems. This flies contra to the UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond, recently saying UK businesses must do more to protect themselves from cyber attacks.
‘The technology sector is crying out for appropriately skilled experts and they are very short on the ground in Guernsey.’