Isle of Man needs vibrant nightlife to attract new workers, says Chief Minister

Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK

Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK

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A more vibrant nightlife is needed if the island is to attract more young people to live and work here.

Chief Minister Allan Bell said a review is underway to see how Douglas’s night-time economy can be improved.

In Jersey, the bars of St Helier are bustling at night. In contrast, said Mr Bell, the vibrancy of Douglas’s nightlife has been ‘diminishing for quite some time’. He added: ‘Single people in particular are looking for a vibrant social life.’

The issue has been highlighted by trends revealed in the latest government quarterly report into the state of the island’s economy.

It shows the Manx economy is faring well. It’s still growing and unemployment is at its lowest rate for eight years.

But the report also shows that there had been no increase in population numbers - growth needed to bring in the tax revenues required by government and to plug the skills shortage being experienced in certain sectors.

Mr Bell said: ‘We need to grow the working population to offset a big increase in the ageing population and to ensure the sustainability of the pension structure.

‘If we can’t get the skills needed either by attracting people to come to the Isle of Man or training up our young people, employers are going to be faced with a difficult decision whether they continue to invest in those businesses or whether to leave the island.’

Mr Bell said he was aware of a number of business that had either gone to the UK or decided not to relocate here because they can’t get the skilled staff they needed.

‘We have always needed immigration to compensate for the lack of natural growth in the island’s population,’ he explained.

He said sectors such as ICT and engineering were seeing a shortage in skilled labour in other jurisdictions too.

But the Chief Minister said there was also a problem in the island attracting young people. Island life doesn’t suit everyone and young people may be reluctant to move here from a busy metropolitan area with a buoyant social life.

He accepted that for young couples with children the island is a very attractive proposition. ‘There can’t be a much better place to bring up children,’ he said.

The quarterly report, which has been published with a new format designed to make it more reader-friendly with greater use of graphic to present information in a simpler, clearer way, also shows that property prices are up slightly, by 0.9 per cent over the year.

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