It is acknowledged that for a variety of reasons, not least Brexit, there is a shortage of available people within all sectors of the island workforce, skilled and unskilled. It is further acknowledged that government has a duty to ensure that certain areas within the health and other public sectors are staffed sufficiently in order to ensure critical services can be provided.
Government has to be more circumspect, however, in its response. While in the short term some special financing packages have to be in place to bring in key skilled people, it has to be done in the knowledge of the resentment that is bound to be caused where a local workers finds him/herself substantially less well rewarded for doing the same job, when housing relocation packages, subsidised rent and we hear, free electricity are taken into account.
All such contracts for imported staff must be strictly short-term and limits placed on the number of family members permitted to accompany the licence holder. The effect on the accommodation market of workers receiving housing subsidies is without doubt a major factor in fuelling our already overheated housing market. This is especially true within the rental sector. Furthermore, the reluctant increase in the number of people living in this small island only serves to compound the pressure on our already-stretched infrastructure and resources.
For local people within these same critical sectors it is essential to remove the pay disparities. This could be achieved by introducing a critical job equalisation allowance to bring remuneration into line with workers brought into the island. This hopefully will have the effect of encouraging some locals to return to the workplace.
Greater foresight is needed from our political strategist to identify areas of likely future shortfalls in essential workers. Once identified, we need to incentivise local residents to qualify for roles within these critical sectors. If this means subsidised university and accommodation fees for some of our young people so that they can train for the future, then so be it. The quid pro quo will be that qualified persons then have to return to the local workforce for a minimum period of say three years, or repay the monies received in full.
Many of the people now coming into the island under States contracts are unskilled largely because it has to be assumed that local people are not attracted to the work and pay conditions. The question is surely why is this happening?
The subsidies currently being offered by the States to bring in unskilled workers into the public sector would surely be better directed to increase the wages to local people to do the work. This would greatly reduce the burden on the population numbers and the impact on the infrastructure.
We hope that government and local institutions consider implementing our suggestions and give some hope to our young people that a bright future still exists within the island.