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Chamber year end round-up - 2023 | December 2023

22 December 2023

As we come to the end of 2023, CEO, Rebecca George, has put together a short video which looks back over the year to highlight some of our key activity throughout the year.   Click here to view.  

Alternatively, you can read the video script below:

As we come to the end of 2023, I thought It would be a good chance to look back over the year so I've put together a short video which highlights just some of our activity throughout 2023.

January saw the launch of our Positive Health & Wellbeing Forum, fostering collaboration among members in the wellbeing and positive health sector. The forum has had great engagement from the members and we were proud to take over the mantel from Public Health to deliver the Workplace Wellbeing Conference in November. The conference has left a legacy to grow and build on next years event along with actions to improve and support workplace wellbeing for our members.

Members were joined by the Chief Minister, Treasury, and Enterprise Ministers once again at the Comis hotel to engage with our members at our 3rd annual Three Ministers breakfast briefing giving them the opportunity to tackle the Ministers on challenges and opportunities facing the Island.

Our Q4 economic survey highlighted that inflation and energy costs continued to be a key concern for our businesses. Data from our surveys is fed back anonymously to the Department for Enterprise and Treasury to ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of the issues our members encounter are facing but more importantly to monitor closely the nature of any required support interventions.

The first quarter ended on a high with the delivery of the Northern Powerhouse Event. The Conference, held over 2 days, highlighted the potential for collaboration between the Isle of Man and northern England. Attendees included various business representatives from both the UK and Isle of Man. The event was a step towards fostering partnerships and economic development between the two regions, and our aim moving forward is to ensure that traction continues and a legacy around this good work can be built. We are in the process of working with our partners in the North West for a follow up event.

June saw yet more lobbying as we urged Government to put more focus on its Economic Strategy following serious concerns raised by businesses off the back of our Q2 economic survey. Our call to Government came after 93% of respondents expressed a massive vote of no confidence in Government when asked if they believed the economic strategy would be completed as promised. In the same poll 83% said red tape was preventing them from investing and hindering growth.

Lack of human talent has been a big topic for Chamber and its members this year with the lack of available skills on the Island stifling growth within businesses and the economy.

Chamber lobbied hard for the type of Skills Board that nearby jurisdictions are using effectively already and with the support of DESC, DfE and UCM we are working more closely than ever on vocational & human skills development from 14+ , as they do in Jersey & the United Kingdom . This is a new approach for the Isle of Man with a Board that incorporates political representation from Treasury, DESC and the Department for Enterprise to ensure a holistic, collaborative approach is adopted across Government to align the skills and qualifications of students, lifelong learners and employees with the workforce needs of existing and future employers and the economy in the Isle of Man.

The Skills Board will act as a one stop shop for skills-related matters, providing strategic direction, coordination and collaboration among stakeholders, and ensuring quality and relevance of education and training provision. The Skills Board will also monitor and evaluate the impact of skills interventions and policies, and identify skills gaps and opportunities for the island. Will be sharing the strategy with our members in the New Year to ask for feedback and input.

The harmonisation of the minimum and living wage is a great cause of concern for many businesses across multiple sectors and we have been active on the matter for some time including asking members for their thoughts and opinions on how it could potentially affect their business. We shared members views when called to give evidence at the minimum wage committee recently and are urging Government to commission a full impact assessment on the effect harmonisation could have on business.

In October we sent a letter to the Treasury Minister to cast a spotlight on the pressing issue of visa processing delays, highlighting how these bottlenecks are hindering the growth of skilled workers to our Island.

We backed DfE in the pause on the work permit relaxation, recognising that there is a need for further engagement to ensure there are no unintended consequences. DfE are working on a more detailed briefing note and infographic and further engagement with industry will follow with a first set of proposals due in the next quarter.

I must also mention our recent move. Over five years ago we moved into the Eagle Lab. Being located there accelerated Chamber’s visibility and highlighted the value in being in a collaborative working environment. Our time at the Eagle Lab came to an end this Summer and we are delighted that we have been able to mobilise a move to a new collaborative and innovative space so quickly and we are excited for what the Launchpad will bring for our members in 2024 and beyond.

Looking ahead, 2024 will continue to challenge our Island economy. Skills, immigration and work permits will remain at the top of our agenda. We will also continue to lobby Government on becoming smaller and smarter via digitisation.

We have a full schedule of lunches and workshops to share with you in the New Year.
Shared with this video is a link to our member feedback form. Please take a few minutes to let us know how we are doing and what we can do to improve our services for our members. The survey also includes a section to ask what workshop topics and themes you would find of value as well as asking for members who are interested in leading these workshops.

Finally, I want to thank you all for your engagement and collaboration in 2023 and for what we have achieved together and I’m excited about what the next year has in store for our Chamber.

See you all in 2024 and here’s to a thriving and successful Island economy!