Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (29)

Joe Carey

Question:

29. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the critical shortage of qualified drivers of heavy goods vehicles; the plans in place to deal with this issue; if he will give consideration to increasing the level of non-EU work permits to assist in dealing with this skills deficit in a vital supply chain sector for the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2692/21]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

The State's employment permit system is designed to supplement Ireland's skills and labour supply over the short to medium term by allowing enterprises to recruit nationals from outside the EEA, where such skills or expertise cannot be sourced from within the EEA at that time. The system is, by design, vacancy led and managed through the operation of the two occupation lists: critical skills and ineligible. These lists are subject to twice yearly evidence-based review, taking account of labour market research, a public consultation and other issues such as Brexit and Covid 19.

With effect from 2017, the occupation of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver has been eligible for a General Employment Permit, subject to a quota initially of 120 employment permits. In January 2020, this was extended by a further 200 in anticipation of the impact of Brexit on the sector and evidence that labour shortages were an EEA-wide challenge. To date ,131 employment permits have issued to HGV drivers, leaving 189 permits available out of the total quota of 320 permits

The Department working with the Department of Transport will keep this matter under review.