On Friday, the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel (the Panel) held a Quarterly Public Hearing to question the Chief Minister, Deputy Kristina Moore.
The Panel asked for an update from the Chief Minister and her officers on her Ministerial Plan and Delivery Plan. They heard that work is ongoing by the Population and Skills Ministerial Group to tackle the Island’s labour shortages, including:
- Implementing overseas work permit reforms.
- Working with trade bodies and courts to put in place employee rights court standards.
- Improving access to housing for key workers to more nurses and teachers to come to the Island.
- Modifying supplementary planning guidance so that temporary employees can access affordable housing.
- Making changes to the Control of Housing and Work Law to enable people coming over to work in care to access entitled accommodation and not just registered accommodation.
This work comes alongside efforts to fill labour gaps and develop local skills in Jersey through apprenticeship and internship programmes across Government. The Panel heard there are currently 68 paid summer placements across all departments this year as well as 19 apprentices working in a range of sectors, and a further 12 due to start. There has been an increase in applicants for both programs, with an uptake in the older age category using apprenticeships as a way of moving between careers.
When questioning the Chief Minister on funding within the Government Plan for 2024, the panel heard that income forecasts for 2024 will be similar to 2023 levels, with no significant growth. The Council of Ministers is at a ‘very early stage’ in assessing growth bids for Ministerial department funding, but the general figure for bids at this stage is around £100 million. In terms of funding for major capital projects, the Panel pressed the Chief Minister on whether a multiple site health care solution will cost less than the originally agreed upon one site hospital solution. The Chief Minister was unable to confirm whether a more ‘affordable’ multi-site solution would indeed cost less overall.
The Panel also questioned the Chief Minister on the timeline for employing a new permanent CEO and Head of the Public Service. They expressed concern that as the scope of the role is designated within law, changes to the role would need the agreement of the States Assembly, which might delay the appointment. The Chief Minister assured the Panel she is confident on the agreed timeline for filling the post.
Deputy Sam Mézec, Chair of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, said: “We thank the Chief Minister and her officers for answering our questions. The Panel is encouraged by the strong uptake in internship and apprenticeship programmes and hopes this will form part of a sustained and significant effort to fill the pressing labour shortage we currently have on Island. The Panel will be monitoring closely the appointment of the new CEO and Head of Public Service. We encourage the Chief Minister to provide us with regular updates.”
States Assembly Press Notice.