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Dr Elaine Monkhouse and Simon Le Tocq talk to the Guernsey Press about Skills Guernsey and the GTA

A LACK of resource and funding has meant Skills Guernsey has not made the impact it could have done, according to the outgoing chair.

Elaine Monkhouse, who is leaving the island to move to Italy, has said that the achievements it had made had been down to the goodwill of government and business.

‘While it has achieved some good things and made some difference, it has not had a major impact but is it fair to expect it to have done so when it’s not had the resource and funding it has needed. Through a lot of goodwill from government and business we have managed to do some good things but it’s not gone far enough or fast enough. It has real potential and I would have liked to have seen it achieve more.’

Dr Monkhouse said the turning point had been the agreement in 2013 that evidence was needed to identify the skills gaps. An extensive market research project was undertaken in 2014 which included questionnaires, interviews and focus groups to validate the results which will be published shortly.

‘I hope this will be the springboard to get industry, the trade bodies, the private sector and politicians working together as it will tell us what we should be doing.’

She added that the results had not highlighted anything she hadn’t expected but that it was important to have concrete evidence rather than anecdotal feedback.

‘I hope this will ensure the States feel confident enough to put the resources behind it to bring about the training that is needed.’

Her departure from the island also sees Dr Monkhouse’s time as interim chief executive officer of the GTA University Centre come to an end. Her deputy Simon Le Tocq will take over and shares Dr Monkhouse’s hopes for Skills Guernsey.

‘Guernsey has historically taken a very short-term view with its policies but this is not something that will deliver a return on investment tomorrow. It’s a long-term investment,’ he said.

Ensuring we have a highly skilled workforce that can compete in a global economy and increasing the island’s digital wisdom should remain the core focus for Skills Guernsey going forward, but Mr Le Tocq said the increase in retirement age would also focus the need for retraining.

‘It will certainly influence what we provide and will overlap with the need for digital skills as it will be essential that people have the skills they need to do administration and office-based jobs. That will be particularly relevant for those who have had very manual roles which they cannot physically continue doing until they are 70,’ he said.

‘Learning to learn will be key as lifelong learning is what we are here for. At this stage, when we are decades away from that happening, it’s hard to predict what the demands will be.’

Dr Monkhouse said that while Skills Guernsey needed to focus on everyone of employable age, it was unlikely to have the resource to support those still in education.

‘That’s the role of the Education Department and they have an excellent careers service dedicated to improving employability. However, what I would say is that in my experience, there is a huge willingness from employers to get involved in schools and I hope that schools are given the freedom to take advantage of that and accept offers of help,’ she said.

‘That will help raise the profile of other industries outside of the finance sector which offer huge variety and diversity. There is so much more to retail and hospitality for example and there are people in those industries in Guernsey who are really passionate about their sector as a whole and not just their own companies.’

Mr Le Tocq added that that willingness was an asset to the island.

‘It’s a Guernsey thing, people are very passionate about the community and we should utilise that to inspire our young people to want to achieve more and go above the ceiling of previous generations. We are all closely connected and that’s a real positive for all aspects of education. The GTA will be one of the central pillars in ensuring the island has the best educational resources available.’

 

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