GR8, the Channel Islands’ blue-collar employment specialist, has directly employed 25 skilled construction workers from Kenya.
The employment of the skilled workers is made possible under a new flexible work permit category – Temporary Construction Sector Employment (9-month route) – that allows employment agencies to take on construction workers on short term contracts.
The new permit system means that agencies such as GR8 can directly employ people from outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) to work on projects where needed, rather than be tied into a single employer for a fixed term.
The qualified workers, all of whom have previously worked on US and UK government contracts in Afghanistan, are living in accommodation provided by GR8.
Lee Madden, Managing Director of GR8, said: “Recent events have made recruitment extremely challenging, but we worked with the Jersey Customs and Immigration Service and Home Affairs earlier this year and have found a solution that works for our clients and for the island.
“As the economy is rebuilt, the construction sector will continue to require people and there are currently not enough available in Jersey. We have plans to bring more skilled people from Kenya in the coming weeks to meet the demand as more building contracts come online. Accommodation is still issue, but we have secured suitable premises and are looking for additional housing for our next group of construction workers from outside the CTA.”
In addition to the 9-month construction permits, GR8 is also planning to bring staff on 6-month temporary permits from 29 countries which do not require visas to work in Jersey.
Lee added: “We work on the basis that we will continue to need skilled people to support the Channel Islands’ economies, especially while there are recruitment challenges. But we are also all about finding and giving people opportunities.
“While we will always support our local workforce, when the demand requires more people than the islands can provide, we look to the rest of the world. I have been getting to know our Kenyan workers over the last few days and I have been extremely impressed with the level of professionalism and pride they show in their work. Their presence here brings enormous value to the island, and they are making a massive positive impact to their families back home. GR8 really is helping to change lives, one job at a time.”