Dear Members and valued colleagues,

Firstly, on behalf of the executive I would like to thank those of you that you that came to the strategy event on January 16th, the event was a massive success and we collected very many flip charts pages of your views and had some really revealing discussions. 

We will be giving you a short review of the views collected at the next meeting.

Your executive has met twice since then and has now collated all those views into 5 key topic areas for which we have written terms of reference for further research and drafting of reports, these draft reports will become the basis for some of the content in the final Industry strategic review document.  

So, on Thursday March 12th you are all invited to come along to the next stage of the process, again at the Chamber Office and at 4pm for approx. 1.5 Hours.   

After some debate each topic has been chosen by one (or more) of the executive to lead and they will discuss with the group the terms of reference, methods of research, opportunities for members to engage on the teams and the timescales and programmes involved. 

We would ask as many of you as possible to continue to be involved and engage with the process, the first event was great but if we all work together the final document will have great value having been thorough and inclusive in its research and thought provoking and meaningful in both its considerations and conclusions.    

To that end we have listed below the five key research titles with a brief description and we would ask that you send a RSVP e mail to indicating your preferential subject. Clearly, we cannot guarantee everyone will get their first-choice subject, but we will do our best to populate the groups evenly according to interest.

Some persons may also be contacted directly by the topic leaders based on their skills, work area or expression of interests.    

There will be a short presentation on the results from the first event and then we shall break into groups to allow you to make some progress with your group leader on planning the way ahead. 

The groups are: 

Education and Skills: Mark Palfrey  

It is clear that the industry is under threat from staff and skills shortages with a general feeling that local knowledge and skilled persons were both transferring to other industry areas and leaving the island. 

This can be at least partly apportioned to the existing root stock of staff skills and the unsuitable education and development, which were clearly a concern to a great percentage of the attendees with 70% (35) indicating they felt Guernsey was generally behind the curve of industry innovation and an overwhelming 90% (45) saying the apprenticeship scheme was not fit for purpose. 

Off island training was highlighted as expensive, though it has still become a common feature for many due to poor local teaching skills and options. There is no process of coordination in the approach to providing industry training. The local industry is also heavily male dominated and must attract female entrants to remain both relevant and representative of the wider community. 

Staffing and Population: Dave Duquemin and Tim Guilbert 

In difference to the Education and Skills grouping this section is focused on the availability and retention of staff as influenced by the combination of the ability of the industry to attract new entrants from both within and external to the island and the affects positive and negative of current population and migration policy.  

65% (33) of those attending the Strategy Event felt that losing skilled workers was in itself a serious threat to their businesses and recruitment and retention was highlighted as one of the top 8 threats to the industry as a whole. 

The current Population Management Policy has been seen to have a serious effect on other industries including Hospitality, this may prove an opportunity to engage with, understand and influence the governments longer term objectives with regard to employment licenses.        

Political and Economic: Chris Lovell and Richard Spinney 

Worryingly 100% (50) of those that attended the Strategy Event felt the Islands Government was failing to lead either by example or strategically and it cannot have been missed even by the most casual observer quite how divided our community and our States have become on a number of key issues. The lack of States of Guernsey Capital projects was sighted as a contributory factor to the industry downturn in the last 5 years however this may have been considered only part of a general lack of economic development and strategic growth policy by Government.   

50% (25) of attendees felt that the industry could be complacent and certainly an observation often levelled by politicians is that the construction industry is slow to react, lacks vision and is usually a follower rather than a leader.

Potential High Nett Worth (HNW) individuals were quoted as finding the Guernsey economy and getting anything done expensive and complicated, often resulting in them choosing Jersey which provided a more streamlined and welcoming approach.   

Industry and Strategic: Olly Brock and Graham Hollingsworth  

This section is focused specifically on what the industry can do for itself to improve its image, development, responsibility and representation without which most of the above will be devalued. The industry in itself has a responsibility to ensure it is fit for purpose and 90% (45) people attending the Strategy Event felt the construction industry was not competitive. 

Failing to listen to and understand clients of any industry leads to alienation and in a small community such as Guernsey quickly leads to an unbalanced view being developed by the client base, in this case clearly leading to increasing levels of importation of providers.  

Strategy in this instance is the formation of a roadmap for enhancing the industry itself to make it more focused on customer service and satisfaction than self-gratification. As levels of productivity and high costs are key factors we must as an industry engage with and research these issues in an attempt to understand what needs to change. 

If the Guernsey Construction Industry were to take up the highlighted opportunity to be an economic enabler we must understand and mitigate those matters that may stop it from doing so. 

Future, Design and Procurement: Steve Powell  

This important section contains practical aspects such as the effects of Planning and Building Control legislation, supply chain management and shipping costs just to name a few critical aspects. This group whilst important in its own right will also contribute strongly alongside the other groups by providing specific information vertically for the development of the other areas of the report. 

In support of research on arguments such as high cost of raw material for example, this group shall research and report on the makeup of existing costs, providing comparison with other locations and options for possible alternatives of mitigation. (Proximity to France highlighted as an opportunity)       

To some extent this is also the Blue-Sky thinking division of this team, the opportunity clearly exists to consider some of the opportunities highlighted at the Strategy Event including:

  • Could Loft House be considered for new generations?
  • Low-cost high-quality housing goals for the future
  • Developing ground breaking building regulations specific to Guernsey quality
  • Pioneer new building methods 
  • Research centre type training

Finally some of you provided your e mail contact details at the event and for the sake of correct practice can we ask those that know they are not already receiving e mails due to being members of  the CIF or Chamber contact lists to please confirm they wish to continue to receive messages from the group and be involved? 

With kindest regards 

Tim Guilbert


Chamber of Commerce Construction Industry Group.