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Enterprise; Trade and Employment | Non-EU labour force recruitment and work permits

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the steps that will be taken to ensure the availability of sufficient personnel to take up positions in the workplace; the extent to which staff shortages can be filled through non-EU sources; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the extent to which he continues to assist the augmentation of the labour force here through the use of work permits; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


Ireland’s employment permits system is designed to accommodate the arrival of non-EEA nationals to fill skills and labour gaps for the benefit of our economy, in the short to medium term, but this objective must be balanced by the need to ensure that there are no suitably qualified Irish/EEA nationals available to undertake the work and that the shortage is a genuine one.

It is not intended over the longer term to act as a substitute for meeting the challenge of up-skilling the State’s resident workforce, with an emphasis on the process of lifelong learning, and on maximising the potential of EEA nationals to fill our skills deficits.

The system is managed through the operation of the Critical Skills and Ineligible Occupations Lists which determine roles that are either highly skilled professional roles in critical short supply or are ineligible for an employment permit where evidence suggests there is sufficient availability of those skills in the domestic and EEA labour market.

In order to ensure the employment permits system is aligned with current labour market intelligence, these lists undergo regular, evidence-based review. These reviews are guided by relevant research and a public/stakeholder consultation. The views of the Economic Migration Interdepartmental Group and relevant policy Departments are also taken into consideration.

Account is taken of upskilling and training initiatives and other known contextual factors, such as the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis, and their impact on the labour market.

Changes to the employment permit occupations lists are made where there are no suitable Irish/EEA nationals available, development opportunities are not undermined, a genuine skills shortage exists, rather than a recruitment or retention problem, and Government education, training and economic development policies are supported. Sectors are also required to engage structurally with the public employment service of the Department of Social Protection.

The Department works with other Departments to promote an integrated approach to addressing labour and skills shortages being experienced in the economy.  The Department continues to keep the employment permits system under review in light of changing labour market circumstances and the timing of the next Review of the Occupational Lists is being kept under consideration.

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