Monday, 19 December 2016

Guest Letter from Tony Moretta

Bailiwick Express recently reported on the flight of the Estonian Ambassador, and quoted snippets from Tony Moretta's letter. I've now got the complete letter, and have Tony's permission to print it below. I would only say one thing, and that I am fully supportive of his position.

For years people have been saying lots about diversifying the economy from finance, and the number of election manifestos with that in would stretch from Gorey Castle to Corbiere if laid end to end! Finally, we have a chance for a real diversification, not just empty words, and we have a first class CEO with lots of experience along to guide the process, after false starts back in 2002 and 2005.

Estonia, as he says, is a world leader in the digital economy, and if we are to fast-track our own economy, and that's something we really should do, we must have the best possible relationships with that country. Digital Jersey has also appointed the digital policy adviser for the Government of Estonia, Siim Sikkut, as its newest Special Adviser, a smart move. It has also encouraged coding in schools, laying the seed to our Digital future.

13 December 2016

In Response to Recent Coverage, Cartoons and Commentary about Estonia and All Things Digital in Jersey
by Tony Moretta

There has been a lot of coverage recently regarding the decision to pay for a flight to get the Estonian Ambassador back to London. This has led to further coverage, and indeed a ‘satirical’ cartoon, which has questioned not only the decision to pay for the flight, but also the value of ‘digital’ to Jersey generally. While the JEP did run my short statement regarding Estonia, they did not follow up with Digital Jersey to get further industry perspective on the matter, which is why I have felt compelled to write this letter.

Firstly, I would like to deal with the matter of ‘That Flight’ and the value of the relationship with Estonia to Jersey generally. Without question, from an industry perspective, the decision to pay for the flight was the right one. It was the hospitable and smart thing to do, especially given the relationship with Estonia (a country with unarguably the best eGovernment programme in the world) is one that could provide extensive benefits to our economy.

It is also a shame that this one incident has resulted in questions being raised regarding the value of ‘digital’ in Jersey generally. The development of a digital industry, and a digital society, is of interest to a large number of people and businesses in Jersey and needs to be prioritised if we as an island are to maintain and grow a strong economy and create new jobs.

We didn't build Jersey as a successful international finance centre through self-harming levels of introspection and we won't build a strong digital economy that way either. With that in mind it’s important to note that the digital sector has been the fastest growing part of the economy in the UK over the past 6 years and is forecast to overtake the finance sector there. In Jersey we already have approximately 2,700 people employed in digital industry, and another 800 or so in technology related roles within other industries, such as finance. That is why Government has invested significantly in skills and infrastructure through projects like the gigabit fibre rollout, the formation of Digital Jersey and the investment in technology and training in our schools.

It is also why at Digital Jersey we have created new facilities, like the Digital Jersey Hub, and supported the launch of a Barclays Eagle Lab to provide additional resources. Already this year around 40 students have graduated from our Coding Programme & Digital Marketing Course and many have gone on to find new jobs. It is why we have worked with Government to roll out improved services, such as Mobile Parking and Digital ID to support the delivery of Government services online, and have been working with the public and private sector to increase the percentage of Government technology budget that is spent in Jersey, to protect and grow jobs for local people. It is why we are developing a Digital Health Strategy and working to bring together essential information, such as air quality and traffic flow, to ensure we are making future decisions about our island based on data and evidence.

While I understand that criticism and constructive debate is healthy for us all, I would like to see a more balanced perspective presented by all local media. An editorial agenda that encourages Government to invest in the digital sector and citizens to embrace technology, rather than fear change, would be very welcome and would benefit us all. Based on the attendance at our recent career event at the Digital Jersey Hub, and the 4,000 visitors to TechFair, it is clear that many people, and especially the younger generation get it. For the sake of Jersey’s future and the sake of appealing to your next generation of readers, listeners and viewers, I would hope that at some point the local media get it too.

Tony Moretta
CEO, Digital Jersey

1 comment:

James said...

Spot on.

And shame on the BBC for pursuing this, while a further £32000 subsidy to Jersey's so-say athletes to attend the Island Games in Gotland passes without comment.