Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Questions (180)

Verona Murphy

Question:

180. Deputy Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Health if his Department sought access for employment permits to address the critical shortage of skills as part of the recruitment resolution to delivering home care support services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57700/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The employment permits system operated by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment is designed to facilitate the entry of appropriately skilled non-EEA nationals to fill skills and or labour shortages. The system is managed through the operation of the Critical Skills and Ineligible Occupations Lists which determine employments that are either in high demand or are ineligible for an employment permit where there is a surplus of those skills in the domestic and EEA labour market.

The Critical Skills and Ineligible Occupations Lists are subject to twice-yearly review which is predicated on a formalised and evidence-based process which 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.

As part of the most recent review of the occupations lists, officials from my Department engaged in discussions with officials from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment in respect of submissions received relating to the health sector. The submissions received from the home care sector were considered by the Department of Health, Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment and the Interdepartmental Group for Economic Migration Policy.

The review did not recommend removal of the occupation of care worker/home carers from the Ineligible Occupations List as the evidence suggested that contracts of employment and terms and conditions being offered are significant factors in the recruitment challenges faced by the sector, rather than a demonstrable labour market shortage. To have an occupation removed from the ineligible list, there needs to be a clear demonstration that recruitment difficulties are solely due to skills and labour shortages in Ireland and the EEA and not to other factors such as salary and or employment conditions.

It was not considered appropriate to make any changes to the eligibility for employment permits for home carers on this occasion as there was insufficient evidence that the issue is not one of terms and conditions. A longer-term approach is required to address these challenges and the Department of Health is committed to working with relevant stakeholders to seek to address these issues.