Sunday, 9 August 2009

On your bike!

ISLANDERS will have to lower their expectations and accept jobs historically done by immigrants to weather the economic downturn, the Social Security Minister has warned. That could be waiting on tables and working in shops, hotels and on building sites.

Ian Gorst was commenting on the local job market, and reported in the JEP. This has already received a lot of indignant replies. However, when you read the complete article, it is clear that rather than a suggestion by Deputy Gorst like the often quoted Norman Tebbit's "get on on your bike" remark, it may simply be just a comment on how people are actually behaving - "Deputy Ian Gorst said many people were already 'having to try anything to get work'." If you are out of work, lowering expectations may be sensible, after all, and his department has been observing this trend, and making it public. Reportage in the JEP is often ambiguous, and I'd sooner give Deputy Gorst the benefit of the doubt.

Where this gets interesting, is the follow up statement that "it was revealed that businesses are being refused licenses to take on non-locally qualified staff - forcing them to employ people that have lived in the Island for at least five years."

Two questions spring to mind:

1) Does this also apply to the finance sector (where jobs have also been lost), so that banks and trust companies are squeezed to take local staff who are familiar with the industry, even if it means some training being supplied?  Or does it just apply to the businesses which supply more menial forms of labour? Some figures on refusals given under the Regulation of Undertakings Law would provide an indicator as to whether this was a fair across-the-board measure being taken. Or does the finance industry manage to claim "exceptions" because it needs especially qualified workers? Although I believe (from my sources) at least one bank manager has been made redundant, so there are probably qualified people out there.

2) The States has not got a good record of leading by example. I know that Deputy Gorst is involved in a plan to train up future chief officers and the like internally (a new strategy on high-flyers that covers some of the same ground as the old civil service exams). Nevertheless, it seems that high end jobs - such as the head of La Moye school - where there was a perfectly capable acting head - go out of the island, while the lower paid positions do not. Is the States going to change this culture, and should it be also subject to the Regulation of Undertakings Law?


While Tebbit is often quoted, this is a misquote. He actually said not "get on your bike and look for work", but "I grew up in the '30s with an unemployed father. He didn't riot. He got on his bike and looked for work, and he kept looking 'til he found it."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting isnt it - the people who need work because they have no resources find it hard to get jobs. Yet those with other means and income streams seem to find it relatively easy.

Tightening up on licenses after having been fairly lax about them is likely to create a pseudo market. Imagine you are a company, with a couple of licenses that has laid off staff, and doesn't have the work to warrant taking on more. You have unused licenses. Down the road a younger company trying to grow can't get licenses it needs. Company A recruits on its licenses and contracts to company B. Nice little earner for those who have been issued licenses in the past.

St Ouennais