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Where do you see industry in Jersey going due to technical and digital advancements?
Obviously Jersey’s current dominant industry is Finance, and there technology presents both threats and opportunities. The threats come in terms of disruption to traditional players through innovation from new start-ups and from the impact of automation on jobs, especially those focussing more on administrative tasks. However, there is a huge opportunity here in both areas for Jersey if we embrace new technology quickly and strongly in that as a small country with population limitations, technology should allow us to do more from less people, and move employees over time to more productive and interesting roles. The same opportunity exists in more traditional industries such as agriculture, where there are already pressures in terms of workforce availability and so automation can solve that problem as well. All of this comes even before we look at the growth of our standalone digital sector which has so far focussed on areas such as telecoms, creative media and supporting the finance industry. This will continue but I believe we will see new industries emerge as well.
Do you think that there will be any emerging industries on Island because of these advancements?
Yes – there will be both innovation in existing industries to improve them, e.g. new Know Your Client technologies in Finance, but also completely new industries as well. It would be a mistake to try to pick which ones will emerge in advance, so we need to make sure that Jersey is a fertile ground for any digital business, although we are seeing clusters of activity around FinTech, Digital Health and the Internet of Things. Jersey is a good place for new technologies to be tested with our compact sized independent country with world class connectivity (three 4G networks and gigabit fibre) and hence we will be marketing ‘Sandbox Jersey’ to attract new people to come here to try us out and many will stay, to complement our home grown start-ups.
What main employability skills will be required for these emerging industries and on-Island employment in general?
Digital is not just about technical skills, with creativity and problem solving also key. However, we should be improving our skills base in areas such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and software engineering if we are to protect and grow both our existing industry sectors and also our new ones.
What is it about future tech and data that gets you excited?
On a personal level there is never a dull moment in this role, looking as we do at diverse areas such as financial services technology, health, telecoms, eGovernment, education, and many others. At a commercial level technology is the key to simultaneously improve both quality and efficiency, delivering some real win-wins for companies, individuals and our country.