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Warning over recruitment difficulties

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THE recruitment of suitable employees has recently become ‘extremely difficult’ for Jersey firms – particularly in the finance sector – and could be made worse by stricter immigration controls, members of the business community have warned.

Shelley Kendrick

With unemployment levels in the Island dropping, Shelley Kendrick, director of recruitment firm Kendrick Rose, said that businesses were finding it increasingly difficult to find skilled staff, a trend which has been reported to the Jersey Chamber of Commerce by its members.

And with increasing political pressure on the States to introduce stricter immigration controls – such as time-limited permits and tougher criminal record checks – the Chamber said that the need of Island businesses for skilled staff had to be considered or the economy would be damaged.

The figures for the first quarter of 2018 show the total number of Islanders registered as actively seeking work by the Social Security Department was 310 lower than a year earlier, with 910 people currently registered.

Ms Kendrick said that the declining number of Islanders looking for work meant fewer candidates were now available when jobs were advertised.

‘The problem is particularly marked in finance because this is an area of the economy that is seeing enhanced growth,’ she said.

‘However, when one sector of the economy grows, it draws talent from other sectors, leaving areas that can’t offer enhanced salaries and benefits struggling for talent too.’

She added: ‘The number of people actively seeking work in Jersey has been dropping steadily over the past five years, showing the strength of the jobs market.

‘Clearly there are many areas where there is a specific skills shortage, and while retraining and upskilling may help to a certain degree, it will never fully address the gap between the jobs available and some of the candidates looking for work.’

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The Chamber, which represents the business community, recently carried out a survey of its members after receiving feedback that many firms were suffering recruitment difficulties. It found that 70 per cent of respondents were currently recruiting and, while most roles are filled within a couple of months, 45 per cent of firms take three to 12 months to hire new staff, with ten per cent taking more than a year.

A total of 84 per cent of respondents said that the lack of available candidates was the main issue, causing slow recruitment,

A statement released by the Chamber says: ‘[The results] corroborated the anecdotal evidence, that sourcing suitably trained available employees in Jersey has become extremely difficult.

‘It has now become such a major problem that it is having a negative impact on business growth, profitability and, in turn, increasing stress levels for existing employees.’

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It adds that the States needs to find a ‘balance’ between reducing the impact of immigration on the Island’s infrastructure and allowing firms access to foreign staff to boost economic growth.

‘Jersey is an island with a finite limit of resources. However, it is imperative the States acknowledge that businesses must have the flexibility to employ the right person and number of people for their organisations to operate and flourish,’ it says.

‘Restricting recruitment ultimately restricts economic growth, a situation which many of our members now find themselves in.’

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
author

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