Building a local legacy
May 27, 2022
T&G discuss seizing the important workforce development opportunity presented by the new hospital and other projects
The construction of Jersey’s new hospital seems to have taken a definitive and very big step forward as planning permission to build at Overdale is finally granted.
For or against this outcome, the debate surely needs to now move on to the detail involved in implementing the £800 million project. There is still plenty to consider – and hopefully get right for the benefit of all.
Among matters is a question of construction workforce, and the important opportunity to ensure a tangible, valuable and lasting legacy for Jersey.
While there may have been debate over location, and reservations about requirements, there must surely be no question about where the talent should be found, or developed, to build our new hospital.
Sustainable workforce planning
As an island with strictly limited manufacturing capacity, it is understandable that many of the supplies needed to construct the new hospital will be imported.
What will seem less comprehensible is any reluctance to sustain and develop local construction companies through the project, particularly the specialist skills and labour force needed to carry out such work.
Yet the fear expressed by some is that for the new hospital and other major projects, the expedient choice will be to contract outside the island.
‘We’ve seen far too little debate in this area in recent years,’ advances Johnny Moffett, managing director at local structural engineers T&G, ‘and far too much reliance on non-Jersey companies.
‘While no one is calling for any form of closed shop, there does need to be an open and transparent approach when it comes to construction contracts for major projects. And a much stronger emphasis placed on the benefits arising from nurturing and developing the local talent needed to sustain Jersey’s future construction industry.’
Local construction benefits
The benefits of such sustainable thinking are widespread and substantial.
There’s a well understood financial gain for a start – every pound spent locally leads to three pounds of overall economic gain. Whereas for every pound spend off-island no such corresponding uplift is incurred.
Very importantly too is the beneficial impact on jobs and job creation. Not only does the local construction industry presently provide thousands of islanders with employment, it also potentially offers training and development opportunities for hundreds of school leavers and graduates.
‘There are local development companies that understand this,’ Mr Moffett underlines, ‘such as Andium Homes. Strongly community minded, Andium always tries to achieve its goal of providing affordable homes for islanders through placing work with local companies, contractors and specialists.
‘Within this approach is an important understanding that doing so will ultimately sustain the local industry and workforce it supports, ensuring advanced knowledge and expertise passes to the next generation.
‘This, in turn, provides career opportunities for graduates wanting to return to Jersey, which can truly help complete a virtuous circle – young islanders working for local companies, designing and building the affordable local housing that will allow them to stay and raise families in Jersey.’
‘Many of us hope that this can be the same approach taken by those now responsible for planning and delivering the new hospital project.’
A new level of debate
The dust has hardly begun to settle on planning permission being granted to build the new hospital at Overdale. And hardly likely to dissipate any time soon as new battle lines are drawn between those for and against.
However, a new level of debate needs to commence, accompanied by scrutiny that ensures new hospital planners are justifiably held to account over construction decisions taken during the coming months and years.
The right ones should not only result in a gleaming new facility for all to be proud of, but also provide a proud statement of trust in the local construction industry and a strongly built workforce legacy for years to come.
Why choose T & G?
Over more than 30 years in business, we have been involved in projects across the Channel Islands, spanning every type of construction, working on large commissions and small, encompassing the requirements of private and public sector clients. Each has been approached with the same determined, creative professionalism that drives everything T&G does.
Choosing to work with T&G in Guernsey or Jersey provides assurance of the same high quality approach. We take pride in understanding and meeting client requirements, in finding solutions to engineering challenges and ensuring satisfaction at the completion of every project or piece of work.