Students taking part in the latest instalment of the Hawksford JCG Debate Series have said that immigrants play a significant, positive, role in Jersey’s economy and afford them the opportunity to follow their own, off-island ambitions.  

Debate teams from Jersey College for Girls (JCG) and Grainville took to the stage on Wednesday 6th November to debate the issue of the island retaining its brightest young minds.   Moderated by BBC Radio Jersey breakfast presenter, Matthew Price, the debate addressed the notion that ‘This house believes it is better, for Jersey, for me to stay than go.’ In an emotion fuelled debate, the winning team managed to convince almost all of the gathered audience.  

Hawksford staff, students, teachers, governors and parents gathered to watch the group of 10 JCG and Grainville students debate the positive and negative impacts of the migration of young talent away from Jersey and the implications this may have for the island’s future. The passionate discussion resulted in the majority of audience members voting against the proposition, agreeing that young islanders should follow their ambitions off-island.  

The team for the proposition argued that the retention of young talent in Jersey had significant economic, cultural and social effects on the island’s future development. They told the audience that the States continues to invest heavily in the education and development of Jersey’s youngsters, which in turn provides the basis for continued business progression without the need for large-scale immigration. Equally, the movement of talented youngsters away from Jersey would result in the net-drain of home grown talent. The team also highlighted the cultural and social implications of losing the island’s core body of youngsters, resulting in the breakdown of family values and the loss of the passion and commitment needed to retain Jersey’s unique heritage.

The team against the proposition argued that the lack of specialised training and career opportunities in Jersey made it necessary for youngsters to move away from the island in order to pursue their desired goals and aspirations. Disagreeing with the other team, they proposed that immigration is positive for Jersey, as it enriches the island’s culture and drives the level of competition and skills needed to compete as a global financial centre and to provide essential services. They concluded that preventing outward migration would ultimately impede civil liberties and reduce the happiness of individuals wishing to gain exposure to opportunities only available off-island.  

‘The students worked exceptionally well together to form passionate and well-rounded arguments, and I was surprised by the level of enthusiasm displayed from both sides. Both houses clearly communicated their intended point of view to the captured audience. It was a pleasure to have moderated the debate,’ commented Mr Price.  

The debate ended with a series of questions from the audience. ‘The comments and questions provoked further debate from the students and I was delighted at the level of participation from the audience,’ added Mr Price.  

Chief executive of Hawksford, Peter Murley, who also attended the debate, added: ‘The students did a fantastic job in the debate. Their oratory and articulation were incredibly sophisticated and we were all very impressed with their arguments.’  

He went on to add: ‘Our aim is to get the students thinking ahead to the future, to ensure they’re always challenging, and hopefully inspiring them to become the devoted politicians of the future. It was also great to see the two schools working so well together.’  

This debate is the first in the series to involve two schools. The teams were made up of individuals from both schools to ensure students had the opportunity to mix and work together. More schools will become involved in future debates.  

The debate series focuses on the key theme, and Hawksford’s positioning statement, thinking beyond tomorrow‘Our positioning statement, thinking beyond tomorrow, is incredibly important to us as it underpins everything we do for our clients. By immersing ourselves in the possibility and challenge of tomorrow, we become more prepared for today,’ added Mr Murley.  

The debate series, which was launched at a Hawksford reception event at the House of Commons in October 2012, has been organised in order to encourage public speaking, the voicing of opinions and to create a bridge between today’s leaders with the leaders of tomorrow.