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Jobs on St Helena

You want to work here?

Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice and need.{a}

Want to live here but need to work to support yourself? Read on…

Jobs on St Helena

Please note: the following is our understanding of the applicable laws, but we are not legal advisors and in any case the regulations change periodically. Please check your facts with the Government of St Helena before making any decisions. Here are some useful links.

SEE ALSO: We have assumed below that you have already read our page Could you live here?.

Stop reading if you’re independently wealthy!

Independently wealthy

If you have the financial means to support yourself on St Helena without working, you need read no further. You do not have to work here to live here, as long as you can demonstrate to the Government of St Helena that you can support yourself by other means.

But, for most of us, work is part of life…

So you want to work here…

3.5% of the population is unemployed and looking for work{b}.

Below: TipsFew warningsCommon MistakesDon’t lie on your CV!

Tips

Before reading further ask yourself: What special skills do I (or my partner) have that St Helena might need? If you don’t have a good answer to that question you may be wasting your time reading further. We already have plenty of unskilled and semi-skilled people. What we need are people with skills. For example, business managers; anything to do with electronics or computers; secondary-education teachers; medical professionals; etc. If you can’t offer something it is not likely you could find a job here.

Working here
Job advert

Jobs are advertised each week in the St Helena newspapers and also regularly on the Government of St Helena website (but note that most jobs advertised on the Government of St Helena website are short-term contract jobs). Although there are usually plenty on offer, you probably will not qualify to apply for any of them. As a non-Saint you can only take an advertised job if no Saint wants it, even if you are better qualified than they are.

While you cannot become a Saint, you can acquire ‘Saint Status’, but to do so you have first to live here (somehow supporting yourself) for five years and have no criminal record{1}. Also, at present, time spent working for Government of St Helena on a short-term contract does NOT qualify towards your five years.

For that reason most immigrants start their own business (see below).

If you want to try contacting the larger employers on St Helena, they are as follows:

We have excluded Basil Read from this list. The Airport Project is complete and although Basil Read has been undertaking other construction projects on St Helena no new jobs are likely to be available.

A few warnings

Please be aware that the legal framework for working on St Helena is not perhaps what you would expect. Most UK legislation does not apply (or has been explicitly ‘dis-applied’) here. So in St Helena it is still legal to sack someone for no reason and other things that would be unthinkable in the UK and Europe. Work is underway to address these issues - equal pay legislation was introduced in 2016{3} - but progress is slow. In recent years legislation was passed requiring all employers to provide written contracts of employment, but this is not enforced and many employers still do not. Make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions of your employment before accepting a job on St Helena.

While St Helena does have some legislation which covers equal rights and protects against discrimination there are many gaps and too many opportunities for some forms of abuse. Equality legislation covering ethnic origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age and disability is covered in our Constitution but it only refers to government, their employees and government-owned entities.

People working in the private sector do not have the same rights and protection. It is entirely legal to advertise a job vacancy stating that anyone over 25, or homosexuals, or anyone born in the UK, or anyone who is not a practicing Christian, need not apply.

Employment legislation does concern itself with unfair dismissal but ignores the principle that everyone doing the same work should get the same pay - women continue to be paid less than men when doing exactly the same job{4}. There is no recourse to law for people suffering from sexual harassment or bullying.{c}

Prices are higher here than in the UK, but local wages are below UK levels. If you are offered a job on a local salary this may be an important issue. In recent years the Equality & Human Rights Commission has published a report on how the poorest cope with this, and the following quote comes from the 1st September 2018 report:

In evidence in a recent court case the then SHG statistician gave evidence that the cost of living on St Helena is 25% higher than that in the UK and the wages are approximately one third.

Common Mistakes

Some mistakes are often made by people coming from the UK to work here; commonly to fill posts with the Government of St Helena. Please try to avoid them, for everybody’s benefit, including your own:

  1. St Helena is not Just like the UK but smaller. St Helena may be a British Overseas Territory and may have the same Head of State and official language, but culturally and socially it is very different. This means you cannot assume that the solutions used in the UK{5} will work on St Helena. Saints get really fed up with being told something is going to be done a particular way because that’s how we do it in the UK; such solutions rarely work here. UK processes and procedures are designed for a sophisticated, populous and largely anonymous society. St Helena is none of these. Some ex-pats say it was only towards the end of their two-year contract that they began to get an inkling of just how different St Helena is, and then felt embarrassed at some of the ‘solutions’ they proposed when first here that they had come to see as completely inappropriate and unworkable.

  2. Don’t assume the job will be easy. St Helena may be small and there may be only a population of around 4,400 people{6}, but that doesn’t make the problems easier; in many ways it makes them harder. You will not be part of a large team, so there will be less collective brain-power to call on, and if one person is sick or on holiday a more significant percentage of the extra work will fall on you. In many cases you will be the island’s only expert in your field{7}. You can call on contacts in the UK for help but they will not understand the circumstances you face on St Helena. Some people find themselves feeling quite isolated. Your two years here will not be a holiday in the sun - it may be one of the hardest jobs you ever do.

  3. Lack of disagreement is not the same as agreement. You may put forward an idea in a meeting and find that none of the Saints present expresses disagreement. This does not mean they actually agree. In fact they may think your idea is the most stupid suggestion they have ever heard, and know with absolute certainty that it cannot possibly work, but Saints are not by nature a confrontational people, and often feel uncomfortable expressing dissent, especially in a meeting and to a highly-paid (by their standards) ‘expert’. Speak to them individually and you will learn more. Saints knew the Bailey Bridge design was flawed and that the Airport design would have trouble with the wind but the ‘experts’ didn’t ask them the right way before proceeding with their plans.

  4. Don’t underestimate local people. It is occasionally (fortunately, rarely) the case that an ex-pat arrives with the attitude that Saints are simple, naive people, easily led and possibly almost child-like. Not only is this insulting, it is completely untrue. Such people do not last long here.

You would be wise to note the following, quoted from St Helena Britannica (2007, Hearl/Schulenberg):

Advisers are not universally welcomed by Saints. Bad goes; worse come they mutter as experts come and go.

Don’t lie on your CV!

No experience

No experience

Don’t lie on your CV
{d}

Why do we say that? Well in living memory there are rumoured to have been some ‘experts’ employed here who turned out to be anything but! It is said that the actual relevant qualifications of one fishing industry ‘expert’ were that he had a job testing histamine level in a fish-processing factory (right). More worryingly, there is a story going round that one of our Chiefs of Police was actually an imposter, and wasn’t even a genuine policeman!

Whether either of these stories is accurate we can’t say, but we are sure that as a result of these persistent rumours the Government of St Helena does now check submitted CVs quite carefully. So if you know nothing about anything and fancy a two-year paid holiday in the sun, pretending to be an expert in something St Helena needs and making up experience for your CV won’t work.

Probably…

Incidentally, a look in the Records shows an early example of this from 1734.

Starting your own business

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and it looks like work.{e}

Your own business?

If you have plans to start your own business here, or buy or buy into an existing business{8}, you could contact Burgh House crest @@E@@Burgh House Limited, an independent business support company that also helps potential inward investors.

There are few rules constraining what your business can do{9}, so think imaginatively. A business that would grow to employ local people would be particularly attractive.

But please: if your idea is to come here and open a guest-house/hotel/etc. be aware that the island is currently deluged with people having the exactly this idea. Unless you have a unique approach, probably best to think of another idea.

Employment Profile

The following statistics may be helpful{b}:

CLASSIFICATION{10}  Male  Female  Total
Managers133182315
Professionals126141267
Technicians and Associate Professionals145181326
Clerical Support Workers42173215
Services and Sales Workers234468702
Skilled Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Workers82991
Craft and Related Trades Workers30135336
Plant and Machine Operators and Assemblers75580
Elementary Occupations20875283
Not stated221739
Total  1,368  1,286  2,654

Can I become a Saint?

We discuss this on our page Saints.

Read More

Article: Irresistible job on sub-tropical isle

Published in The Banker, July 2004{11}

The Bank of St Helena is looking for a lending officer who wants to get away from it all{12}

St Helena
St Helena: don’t think of exile, think of starting up a lending business

Napoleon Bonaparte ended his days in exile in St Helena, a worthy claim to fame. This 410km² British Dependent Territory may have only about 4,000 residents but since April 1st it has boasted its very own government-owned commercial bank.

The Bank of St Helena is a unique institution. Setting up the bank on the sub-tropical island in the south Atlantic was subject to unique circumstances. The idea of offering both savings and current accounts, for example, was quickly abandoned when it became clear that it would take too long to educate the population about the difference between the accounts. Until then, cash had been king.

The next stage for the bank is to start lending. To date, 12 loans have been granted with an average value of £2,000. But recruiting top staff is a problem. The bank is looking for a chief lending officer who could become the next managing director in May 2005 when the current incumbent returns to the UK. (Although The Banker does not generally run job ads, we found this one irresistible and hope the successful candidate will keep us informed of progress.)

A suitable candidate would probably be paid more than £20,000 plus accommodation. Not a major amount, but of interest perhaps to a retired bank manager who likes the idea of getting away from it all - the island is only accessible by ship and it takes at least a week to travel to St Helena from either Ascension Island or Cape Town in South Africa.

When it comes to housing loans, the government’s policy to date has been not to foreclose on mortgages because evicting someone from a house for non-payment simply transferred the problem to social services since there are no facilities on the island for housing such families. If in future the bank were to foreclose on a mortgage, they would literally be putting the family on the street, says Alan Savery who set up the bank and is now chairman of the Banking Supervisory Authority. (Supervised banks: Bank of St Helena). He was formerly with the Bank of England and HSBC.

LOL

Credits:
{a} Voltaire{b} 2021 Census, taken 7th February 2021.{c} Vince Thompson, in The Independent, 17th January 2014{11}{d} ‘Ambassador{13}’, January 2013{e} Thomas Edison

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Footnotes:
{1} A Governor can grant Saint Status in a lesser period if they consider it to be ‘in the interests of the island’ so if you don’t want to wait five years, make friends with The Governor!{2} So excluding Bank of St Helena, Connect Saint Helena Ltd. and parastatals like (the former) Enterprise St Helena (ESH).{3} Approximately 40 years after the same was made law in the UK.{4} This was corrected in 2016, though as yet no formal mechanism exists for determining if two jobs are equivalent.{5} Or anywhere else for that matter. After one visiting ‘Expert’ left it was discovered that his final report was exactly the same as the one he’d written for Montserrat, but with the names substituted.{6} The total resident population on 7th February 2021 was 4,439, 4,118 of which were St Helenian and the remainder visitors, temporary workers, etc.{b}{7} You may not think of yourself as an expert, but here you may well be the only person with any knowledge in your field… Expert is a relative term!{8} Though be aware that most local businesses are very small - under 5 people - so inward investors are not normally considered.{9} Making hard-core pornography, running a nuclear power station and gambling/gaming are notable exceptions. You also can’t provide telecommunications services to the general public because Sure has a legal monopoly.{10} International Standard Classification of Occupation (ISCO-08).{11} @@RepDis@@{12} Obviously this job is no longer available but it was the method by which we, the Turner family, arrived on St Helena. Learn more at: Turner family crest @@E@@The Turner Family. Editor’s Note: It may or may not be relevant that an anagram of ‘SAINT HELENA’ is ‘ALAN HE SENT I’…{13} ‘The Ambassador’ is an official monthly publication of the Government of St Helena. Formatted like a newspaper it contains four pages setting out what the Government of St Helena wants its readers to know about St Helena. Readership figures are not disclosed. It can be found on the Government Website.{14} This figure comes from The Sentinel 6th August 2020, page 5, showing full-time workers directly employed by the Government of St Helena{2} only. Many people have multiple jobs - a ‘day job’ with SHG and other paid work done in the evening or at weekends. In addition it depends on whether the people working for Connect Saint Helena Ltd. and Bank of St Helena are included as Government or Private Sector.

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