Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (708)

Maureen O'Sullivan


708. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if healthcare assistants will be put on the critical skills visa list in order that healthcare assistants from abroad can be employed here due to the acute shortage of these skills. [35039/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

The State's general policy is to promote the sourcing of labour and skills needs from within the workforce of the State and other EEA states.  Where specific skills prove difficult to source within the State and EEA, the employment permits system offers a conduit into the Irish labour market for non-EEA nationals with in-demand skills and is operated as a vacancy led system.  

The system is managed through the operation of the Critical Skills Occupations List and the Ineligible Occupations List for the purposes of granting an employment permit.  The Lists are subject to twice-yearly review which is predicated on a formalised and evidence-based process and involves consideration of the research undertaken by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (Solas), the Expert Group of Future Skills Needs (EGFSN), the National Skills Council, and input by relevant Government Departments in addition to the public consultation phase.  Submissions to the review process are also considered by the Economic Migration Policy Interdepartmental Group chaired by DBEI and which includes a representative from the Department of Health.  

Healthcare assistants and Homecare workers are currently on the Ineligible Occupations List and in order to have an occupation removed from the ineligible list, there would need to be a clear demonstration that recruitment difficulties are solely due to shortages across the EEA and not to other factors such as salary and/or employment conditions.  Organisations in the sector would need to provide the necessary evidence to substantiate their claims.

Following completion of the most recent review, the roles of Healthcare Assistant and Homecare workers were not proposed for amendment at this time.  The views of the lead policy Government Department for the sector, in this case, the Department of Health, are an important part of the decision-making process.  Officials of that Department have advised the sector of the need for further evidence, demonstrating genuine efforts to recruit across the EEA. In particular the sector needs to engage with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social protection who have responsibility for EURES the (European Employment Services), and who are well positioned to help sectors to recruit from within the EEA. 

The mid-year Review of the Occupational Lists is now underway, and submissions received in July are currently under consideration. I expect to receive recommendations, based on available evidence, in relation to possible changes to the lists before the end of the year.