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 my Department
Barbers and hairdressers are currently on the Ineligible Occupations List and in order to have an occupation removed from the ineligible list, there needs 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.
The sector itself needs to detail the strategies that are in place for training/upskilling/career development within the industry and to demonstrate that it is engaging systematically with the employment services of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Organisations in the sector need to provide the necessary evidence to substantiate their claims.
A review of the occupational lists is almost finalised. Submissions received, including those for the role of barber and hairdresser 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.
Training and Education in the industry is a matter for the sector and the Minister for Education and Skills.