The Isle of Man’s economy will be ‘materially different’ by 2020 if the government’s strategy for creating jobs and generating additional tax revenue is realised.
The Department of Economic Development’s ‘Vision 2020’ strategy, which was unveiled this week, focuses on eight economic sectors with the stated goal of growing the island’s economy by 3 to 4 per cent a year in real terms over the next six years.
‘In totality our economy will be materially different in 2020. The whole sectoral makeup with differ. Emerging sectors, such as e-business for example, will grow dramatically as a share of our economy,’ DED chief executive Chris Corlett told the Manx Independent.
He said that while it would be business as usual for the engineering sector, within financial services there would be ‘quite radical departures from the past’.
No in-depth details of the strategy, which was drawn up in conjunction with the private sector, will be published to avoid giving competing jurisdictions an insight into the Manx government’s thinking.
DED minister John Shimmin MHK told the Manx Independent that while financial services will remain the leading export-earning sector, a large number of jobs were likely to be shed as a result of consolidation, regulatory pressures, automation and offshoring.
‘The challenge is to make sure that our skills base on the island is adequate for the jobs of the future . . . that our workforce is trained to find alternative jobs,’ he said.
E-business has been earmarked as a key source of jobs growth along with engineering. Emerging sectors such as energy and biomedical are seen as offering ‘great potential’.
Mr Shimmin said economic growth of 3 to 4 per cent would allow government’s income to rise by 1 to 2 per cent each year. It would create 0.7 to 1 per cent growth in jobs.
Mr Corlett said: ‘As an island we can’t be all things to all people.
‘We have to pick a small number of niches where we can compete with the best or where there are some innate advantage that we may have.
‘Energy is one. We genuinely think that we’ve got commercial-scale deposits of natural gas within our waters. Equally with wind farms, the EU did a meta study which showed the Irish Sea has some of the best wind farm potential in all of Europe.
‘We are working closely with the UK government to see how we can establish wind farms in our waters. Shortly thereafter we will be looking at how we can maybe have one or two gas platforms within our waters.
‘Those are good means of diversifying the economy, creating more jobs, and crucially providing significant new incomes for government.’