Supporting the business community to reach its potential

20/03/2015 — Graeme Smith

Graeme Smith, Jersey Business CEO discusses how business in Jersey can contribute to the States’ strategic priorities in the February edition of Business Brief.

Our Chief Minister Ian Gorst is quite clear on what he sees as the strategic priorities for the Jersey Government. In my view these equally apply to the business community and it’s only when Government, business and the wider population work together that any economy achieves its true potential. In what is an increasingly competitive market place, having shared priorities is a key step in growing and developing our community in Jersey.

Here at Jersey Business we have our part to play in supporting the business community to reach its potential, so what have we been doing and what are we planning?

The Council of Minister’s first priority is ‘Health and Wellbeing’ and whilst this might more generally apply to the wider community all our employers have a role to play in promoting health and wellbeing of their workforce. It’s not only good practice but also helps economic growth and as a result helps build successful businesses

From a Jersey perspective we have seen a number of new business ventures in the health space with a focus on bringing digital solutions to improve efficiency. Both Total Solutions Group and the recently launched Babylon are great examples of how Jersey can act as a ‘test bed’ to create and develop innovative solutions which can then be promoted across many other jurisdictions. Jersey Business were delighted to work with the team at Total Solutions Group together with Digital Jersey in what I would describe as ‘Team Jersey’ showing what a good place Jersey can be for technology and innovation.

The second priority is ‘Education’. Look at any successful economy and you will see a vibrant education sector covering schools, colleges, universities and of course businesses through their involvement in initiatives such as apprenticeships, graduate programmes and staff development. Whilst some have been critical of Jersey’s education performance, I take a ‘glass half full’ approach. Let’s focus on celebrating and promoting the positive impacts our education system is having and ensuring we have a joined up and coordinated approach to developing a skilled workforce for the future. Business absolutely has a role to play but this needs to be working with schools in a joined up way, not just criticizing from the wings.

At Jersey Business we have been able to identify a number of skills and challenges that businesses face and have responded by delivering activities that provide focused support. A great example of this is the Retail Ambassador programme. Following previous mystery shopping survey Jersey was placed below the UK norm on quality of service delivery in the Retail sector, so working with Butterfly Training we developed a ‘WorldHost’ Ambassador workshop which provided participants with the skills to focus on service delivery in their own outlets and also on their wider responsibility for promoting their locality and Jersey to visitors. These WorldHost workshops are also being used to train the Waitrose Games Makers and so Jersey now has more than 70 Retail Ambassadors to add to the 400 Island Games volunteers who will be offering great customer service across the island this summer. Having seen the success of this programme our plans are to extend this to other sectors such as Tourism and Hospitality.

Planned and coordinated initiatives such as these also help support the Council of Ministers third stated priority of promoting and developing ‘St Helier’. Whilst I fully appreciate and support the focus on St Helier, here at Jersey Business we work with companies in all sectors and all locations across the island and, by working with clients at their own premises, we are able to better understand and support the entire operation of the business.

All our advisors have had management or ownership responsibilities within the private sector and this experience is fundamental to our ability to support Jersey’s established business community. For some of these companies, looking for expansion opportunities outside of Jersey is key to success and so another initiative we are developing in 2015 is an export programme. Building on the successful work we have done with Jersey Dairy and Locate Jersey, we are helping a number of other potential exporters to investigate and supply new overseas markets. With our colleagues in Locate Jersey we can identify the locations where Jersey already has strong connections and where we are able to ensure we promote the very best of Jersey to our future client markets.

The final strategic priority is ‘Economic Growth’, which really is the ‘bread and butter’ for Jersey Business. As a small team of 8 enthusiastic advisers, I believe we are making a real and important impact by providing practical and confidential expertise and advice to new and established businesses. We also have the advantage of a diverse board for guidance plus the support of Economic Development Department and the Minister.

Our commitment to helping companies throughout their business journey means we work with public and private sector partners to share best practice in a ‘Team Jersey’ approach. Some interesting high level statistics covering the activities of the team here at Jersey Business over past 6 months:

  • 510 new and established businesses supported
  • 73 businesses receiving on going support
  • 1,797 client and partner meetings
  • 22 applications supported for Tourism Development Fund, 12 for Jersey Innovation Fund and 10 Skills Accelerator.
  • 100 businesses applied for Jersey Business Enterprise Awards with gala night attended by nearly 700 guests -see our webpage for 2015
  • Global Entrepreneurship week saw nearly 700 children from 7 schools working with our advisers and our partners

For a small team we have I believe achieved a lot in 2014 and for 2015 we are ready to play our part in ‘Team Jersey’ and to deliver on the Council of Ministers strategic priorities.

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