Jersey Construction Council host over 50 candidates for briefing ahead of the General Election
The Jersey Construction Council once again hosted their election briefing which was attended by over 50 candidates standing in the forthcoming General Election. Key issues like people, policy, productivity and prices were discussed amongst a lively session over morning coffee and breakfast. All of the major parties battling it out at the election were represented, with several more independent candidates also present.
The briefing, which was expertly chaired by Philip Syvret, partner from the sponsors Benest & Syvret, was divided into four main topics, each of which was prefaced with a brief presentation from the panel of experts assembled. Council Chairperson Martin Holmes and Vice-chairperson Marc Burton MBE both presented on the topic of people, noting the importance to the island's future of investing in skills and training the workforce and attracting the best candidate's to work in the industry. As the island's third-largest employment sector, Marc noted the positive impact on perceptions of careers in the industry that the "Design, Engineer, Construct!" course being delivered in the island's secondary schools, where over 450 students are actively-engaged in studying construction.
Alison Horton of the Association of Jersey Architects briefed guests on the impact that recent policy changes introduced by the Bridging Island Plan are having at both a working level (where practitioners are seeking guidance on implementing the changes) and a strategic level (where clients and developers are now having to re-visit planning and bye-law applications to reflect the changes in policy now being implemented). Richard Sutton of the Channel Island Group of Professional Engineers presented about how modern methods of construction, including modular housing, could perhaps assist the island in the future with managing its resource constraints and demands. Finally, quantity surveyor Simon Matthews, representing the Jersey Chamber of Commerce, briefed guests on construction prices, house price inflation, and the impact of global construction demand on the local construction industry.
The briefing featured several good questions from potential candidates for the panellists and Council members present, resulting in good feedback from those that attended, who thought it was an excellent and worthwhile briefing. Commenting after the event, Martin Holmes explained it was important that the candidates understood the strong contribution that Jersey’s construction industry makes to the local economy. “With over 6,400 employees, 93% of whom are local and pay their taxes locally, the industry has earned the right to have its challenges heard by candidates at the General Election. The Council’s members are keen to continue building on the good relationships we have with the States Assembly and the Government, and the opportunity to engage through the briefing – which benefits both the candidates and the Council – is one that we welcomed.”
Marc Burton echoed the sentiments. “Several of the guests in attendance came up to me afterwards and noted that they had learned one or two new things about the local industry from attending the briefing, so that makes it all worthwhile. For instance, there aren’t many industries locally that have almost 500 students actively studying for vocational qualifications specific to their sector. That is a call for why the members of the next Assembly need to take construction seriously if they are to be successful with their election campaigns.”
Event sponsors Benest & Syvret were delighted with the opportunity to be involved with the briefing. Partner Philip Syrvret noted the importance that the island’s property industry has on the island’s economy, commenting that “without a properly-skilled, adequately-resourced construction industry, there is no new hospital, no new sports venues, no new housing or other infrastructure; and the present house price inflation will only continue. The candidates understood this link, and engaged well during the briefing. It was a pleasure to be involved in an excellent and very relevant event.”