Tony Moretta, Chief Executive of Digital Jersey, says equipping islanders with digital skills is one of the most pressing priorities for Jersey right now.
The stark message coincides with the publication of Digital Jersey’s half-year review, which charts progress made in 2018 against a series of key objectives.
Mr Moretta says that, while there’s been movement on a range of fronts, work to equip the island’s workforce with the right skills in the face of the growth of artificial intelligence and its impact on swathes of jobs is vital.
He said: “I think some people are afraid of AI. They think of robots replacing humans, but it’s not like that. I think of it as automated intelligence, rather than artificial intelligence. This is about software doing processes that workers are currently employed to do.
“A harsh reality facing Jersey right now is the island’s brain drain. As a small island community without a university, there’s a constant flow of talented people leaving to go to university and often not coming back. We need more degree education and other upskilling options on-island. It’s why Digital Jersey is working tirelessly to create a year-round calendar of events focused on equipping people with those skills.”
The Digital Jersey Hub has, so far this year, run a series of conferences, classes and other events to offer options that suit people whether in work, or out of a job and looking to re-skill. More than 3,000 people have attended in the first half of the year.
“We’ve had a paint-sprayer and somebody working in a fish and chip shop sign up,” added Mr Moretta. ‘”he result is they come out with a skillset that allows them a route into Jersey’s tech sector. They, in turn, are earning more, and that means more tax for government. It’s a win win.’”
Also revealed in the half-year review, the number of businesses who’ve become members of Digital Jersey has broken through the 100 barrier for the first time.
There were 104 business members as of the end of June 2018, of which 20 had joined in the first half of the year. That’s in addition to the 340 individual members, of whom 30 signed up since the start of the year.
Among other highlights, Digital Jersey has:
Supported four firms in relocating to Jersey as part of a campaign to promote the island as the go-to choice for digital entrepreneurs;
Worked with JT to facilitate a new low power wide area network to help link connected devices to the internet;
Assisted local start-up Soulgenic in creating a global online wellness platform, as part of a new business which has created 40 new jobs;
Signed a memorandum of understanding with Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, which resulted in more than 600 items of coverage across news, trade press and social media in its first 10 days; and
Helped Drone technology experts to forecast Jersey’s weather – data from an innovative new drone-led technology being tested in Jersey could deliver benefits for all islanders, as well as providing a rich data source for Internet of Things companies. In the future we hope this could be a valuable addition to our ambition to be the first whole-country sandbox testing environment.