24 Nov 2011
The three key areas that define Guernsey’s successful economy are: the hard work and high skills of its workforce; the inherent diversity of business in the Island; and an in-built emphasis on the importance of entrepreneurialism. It’s the combination of these three factors, plus other important matters such as the Island’s excellent international reputation, state of the art broadband and telecommunication links, exceptionally high quality of life, close proximity to the UK and our competitive corporate tax regime, that have all contributed to Guernsey’s success over many years.
A skilled workforce
Government, in partnership with business, has over the last two years invested a great deal of time, thought, expertise and money in making sure that Guernsey’s workforce is as well-skilled as it can be. The term ‘upskilling’ has entered the lexicon in Guernsey. Independent research in this area underscored how important a skilled workforce is and how the Island should be proud of the skills its citizens possess.
But that should not be interpreted as complacency. A skills strategy is being implemented which will ensure that Guernsey remains a highly skilled place where employers are confident that the talents and expertise of their staff match the requirements of the business. What’s good for businesses and their customers is of course good for the wider Guernsey economy, so the benefits are felt throughout the Guernsey community as companies continue to flourish.
A diverse economy
While financial services are the dominant sector in Guernsey, that doesn’t mean it’s all one product or service. Within finance you’ll find banking and funds industries posting very impressive numbers, trust and fiduciary services with a truly global client base, a captive insurance industry that is pre-eminent in Europe and a wealth of other supporting services such as accountancy, actuarial and legal.
The diversity extends to industries outside of finance too. Much of this is complementary to finance, utilising what are often the transferable skills of the workforce. E-gaming has been a major success for the Island and with its close association with the very highly regarded regulatory regime in Alderney, Guernsey is host to several international e-gaming businesses. The sector is a growing one, even given the difficult global economic conditions.
Just in the last couple of months Guernsey’s government has also approved other initiatives which we hope will become important income generators for the Island in the future. These include the first steps in the creation of an image rights regime which builds on Guernsey’s existing Intellectual Property Office and has massive potential. There is also the setting up of an aircraft registry in the Island which will, like image rights, be complementary to many of the Island’s key financial sectors.
An entrepreneurial culture
Guernsey’s business-friendly entrepreneurial culture somehow feels like it’s in the blood. Perhaps it comes from islanders for years having to be adaptable and that’s now part of business life in the Island. People doing business in Guernsey tend to be innovative and their peers, their customers and indeed their government are all keen to support a new approach, product or service. The Commerce and Employment Department does all it can to facilitate this culture – witness the examples above – but innovation and a ‘creativity-friendly’ approach to business is something that locally grown or ‘adopted’ entrepreneurs discover very quickly.
The Island has a huge amount going for it business-wise, as attested by several decades of success and prosperity. But in Guernsey we try to look forward rather than back. As we say at my department: Business is good for Guernsey and Guernsey is good for business. We’re determined to keep it that way.