The State’s general policy is to promote the sourcing of labour and skills needs from within the workforce of Ireland, the European Union and other EEA states. Policy in relation to applications for employment permits remains focused on facilitating the recruitment from outside the EEA of highly skilled personnel, where the requisite skills cannot be met by normal recruitment or by training.
Employment permit policy is part of the response to addressing skills deficits which exist and are likely to continue into the medium term, but 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.
Ireland operates a managed employment permit system through occupation lists, namely the Critical Skills and Ineligible Lists of Occupations, which are reviewed twice a year in a process led by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. This is an evidence-based process that takes account of labour market conditions and submissions from sectors and other stakeholders, together with contextual factors such as Brexit. The purpose of the system is to maximise the benefits of economic migration, while minimising the risk of disrupting the Irish labour market.
Following a comprehensive cross-departmental/agency review earlier this year, in which my Department was involved, the following changes, which address skills shortages in the construction area, were announced by my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, on 3 April 2019:
Addition of certain occupations to the Critical Skills List of Occupations:
- Civil engineers
- Quantity surveyors
- Construction project managers
- Mechanical and electrical engineers with BIM capabilities
Removal of certain occupations from the Ineligible List of Occupations:
- Sheet metal workers
- Welding trades
- Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Engineers
- Shuttering Carpenters
- Glaziers, window fabricators & fitters
- Scaffolders, stagers & riggers
- Crane drivers
Removal of the certain occupations from the Ineligible List of Occupations by quota:
- Transport and Distribution Clerks and Assistants (Freight Forwarders; Cargo & Freight Agents; Brokerage Clerks) subject to a quota of 300,
- Plasterers subject to a quota of 250
- Bricklayers subject to a quota of 250
As construction in the residential sector increases, it is important that the sector has access to the right mix of skills & labour. These changes to the employment permits system will ensure that we can have the right people with the right skills in place to support construction industry activity, particularly in the residential sector.