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Job-licence policy ‘short-sighted’

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STATES policy on job licences is ‘short-sighted’ and hampering growth, according to a recruitment business owner.

Optimus Recruitment (back row from left): Amanda Brandie, Anna Lawrence, Hugh Munro, Mark Rumbold, Jamie Guyer, Chris Patel and Renny Gould. Front: Coral Burnal, Corrina McDermott and Kate Nolan

Jamie Guyer, founding owner of Optimus Recruitment in Commercial Street, says there is currently a shortage of good, qualified candidates in the financial services sector, at every level.

‘Companies ultimately want to attract the best and those that are winning fabulous business are desperate to attract good people, but they may have to move away to find them,’ said Mr Guyer. ‘A lot of that is down to the licensing system, which is proving difficult at the moment with some licences being taken away.

‘Ultimately, attracting high-calibre professional people to Jersey is really important, if you think of investing in new business, spending in Jersey, wealth creation. Getting in new professionals means they can train others and commercially, to get someone from another culture has more value, in terms of diversity.

‘If companies are smart enough to take on big chunks of business and invest in new offices and people, surely they should have a bit more freedom about who they employ.’

Optimus Recruitment, which employs eleven people, is this year celebrating its tenth year in business.

Mr Guyer said he had seen ‘quite extraordinary’ changes over the life of the business, which was set up a year before the global financial crisis. ‘Ten years ago was when the Apple iPhone came out – it makes you realise that you never know what is around the corner.

‘It was interesting as a business to have gone through a painful time emotionally, with a lot of candidates needing emotional help probably for the first time in their careers, believing that they would always do well in Jersey, that property prices would always go up, bonuses would be paid.

‘I found myself sitting here with a husband and wife, working for different companies but both made redundant at the same time, having to say that things were really difficult in that market and there were not a lot of opportunities. But then things came good and the markets picked up.’

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In terms of the finance industry, since then there had been a ‘great explosion’ in the funds area, as well as in compliance and the fiduciary space. ‘We are extremely busy in that sector, compared to ten years ago. If I look back, some of the firms that started with one or two people now employ 90 to 100.’

Over the past year or so Optimus has seen more demand from clients wanting to use their transferable professional skills – for instance, accountancy – in the commercial or technology sectors. ‘There is a lot of work on the technology side, and marketing and IT is growing.’

In terms of his own business, the firm had aimed to take on senior people with specialist knowledge in their own sectors. ‘Having people who are professionally trained, to give people guidance, that has helped us. We’ve seen six to eight years of excellent growth and placed a lot of people.

‘Having worked in finance at board level, I am used to the client side ‘ he said. ‘If someone is having a tough time – it could be mental illness, working in a bullying environment, constantly overlooked or given reduced hours, to be able to pick them up and place them where they are genuinely welcome and can showcase their abilities, to genuinely be able to help people, is hugely satisfying.’

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