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ICT


Getting it right Looking after technology businesses, however, means providing more than low-cost communications. Space, power and people are all essential. Clark believes that developing skills and providing tailored education will also encourage growth in the sector. It is in areas such as education that government has a crucial role to play. If the islands are to become serious players in the technology game, then skills are of the utmost importance. Ian Jauncey acknowledges there is


a skills gap, but believes that the islands still have strengths. “The skills base does need attention, but the number of British Computer Society members per capita is very high,” he says. “Even so, there’s always the need to bring in outside expertise. What island companies are good at is leveraging local strengths along with partner opportunities.” Ultimately the islands have all the


physical infrastructure they need to attract firms and grow the ICT industry. It’s the soft infrastructure that’s missing. Jersey’s e-gaming law had just been


44 businesslife.co April/May 2011


The development of the Guernsey Technology Park at Saltpans is set to increase capacity even further


passed at the time of writing, almost a full decade behind Guernsey’s. The price differential between the islands demonstrates the importance of moving quickly to put legal and regulatory frameworks in place if opportunities are to be grasped in the technology industry. Acting quickly enough will be difficult


without clear strategies in place. Jersey’s Economic Development Department has engaged industry representatives with a view to drawing up a strategy, but it is unclear when it will be delivered and whether it will have the scope of


competing strategies, such as Malta’s ‘Smart Island National ICT Strategy’, which looks at a range of areas needed to nurture growth, including education. “Malta realised the need to move


their economy, and is providing the ingredients to stimulate growth, including heavy investment in education, tax breaks for ICT companies, cutting red tape and providing useful statistics and information,” explains Loane. The task facing the Channel Islands, if


they are to develop a sizeable ICT sector, isn’t about building new data centres or laying new cables, it is about providing the direction needed to pull together a number of different elements. The missing piece of the islands’ infrastructure is a strategy that will identify the areas where work needs to be done and changes made. As these are developed, so the industry will be more likely to grow. In turn, communications are very likely to become cheaper, and the islands more attractive places to do business. n


KIRSTEN MOREL is on the businesslife.co editorial board


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