work permitThe Department for Enterprise sets out plan to suspend them for two years

The Isle of Man is a step closer to suspending the work permit system, but that’s not before politicians get the chance to give the green light or reject the move.

Currently, anyone who’s not classed as an ‘Isle of Man worker’ requires one, and that includes residents from the UK who haven’t been living and working here for five years.

If MHKs and MLCs give the order the go-ahead at the November Tynwald sitting, work permits would be scrapped from the start of the new year until 31 December 2025, but that date could be extended in future.

Exemptions will still exist though. Work permits would still be a pre-requisite for non-Isle of Man workers who’ve been convicted of unspent criminal offences.

But the question on many people’s lips is why do we need to remove work permits?  We’ve heard from backbenchers with concerns like Onchan’s Rob Callister:

But the minister Tim Johnston has always maintained that competition is simply too fierce to not do something:

His department says it’s due to ‘critical labour shortages’ across most, if not all of the Island’s economic sectors and believes it’s becoming increasingly difficult to attract skilled workers.

The latest figures on the labour market show a 0.6 percent unemployment rate, with the highest number of vacancies in medical and health services among others.

This whole move does form part of the government’s long-term plans to create and fill 5,000 new jobs and reach an overall GDP of £10bn by 2032, and contribute towards growing the population to 100,000.

Work permits are paid-for, but it’s estimated over the past five years, only £86,000 was received from new ones or renewals annually, but ultimately additional injections into the economy from these new skilled workers would make up for takings lost from the current system.

The plans were originally due to go before Tynwald this month, but were delayed due to ‘timing issues over the summer recess’.