Immigrants with key skills set to gain greater access to Irish labour market
2019-04-01 13:27:40 -

By Chinedu Onyejelem


Newly introduced changes to Ireland’s employment permits system for workers from outside the European Economic Area could see thousands of immigrants come to live and work here.


The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation said the changes, which will come into effect on 22 April, are being introduced following an evidence-based bi-annual review of labour market conditions aimed at maintaining a viable economy and prepare for the consequences of Brexit.


The department said that in making the decision, it also received submission from relevant sectors and other stakeholders, together with contextual factors such as Brexit.


New occupations which have been added to the critical skills list include civil engineers, quantity surveyors, and construction project managers.


Others are mechanical and electrical engineers with BIM capabilities, as well as high performance directors and coaches for high-level sports organisations.


Similarly, the department announced the removal of certain occupations from the ineligible list of occupations which qualifies for a general employment permit.


These are sheet metal workers, welding trades, pipe-fitters, air conditioning and refrigeration engineers, and shuttering carpenters.


Others include glaziers, window fabricators and fitters, scaffolders, stagers and riggers, crane drivers, as well as career guidance teachers for secondary schools.


The department also granted three additional occupations limited permission to seek general employment permit.


A quota of 300 has been allocated to transport and distribution clerks and assistants (freight forwarders; cargo and freight agents; brokerage clerks), while plasterers and bricklayers are subject to a quota of 250 respectively.


Announcing the changes, Minister Heather Humphreys said: “Our economic migration policy accommodates the arrival of non-EEA nationals to fill capacity gaps in the domestic economy in the short to medium term, while still prioritising, wherever possible, Irish and EEA nationals in the awarding of contracts of employment.”


She added that the changes “demonstrate that the employment permit system is sufficiently agile and flexible to respond to the evolving needs of the labour market”.


Specifically on the construction sector, the minister said the changes “combined with the many training courses and apprenticeships available to train up workers in the domestic economy will help to ease pressure on the sector”.


Minister Humphreys said that the addition of high performance coaches and directors to the critical skills occupations list will bring huge value to the country.


“Olympic and Paralympic sports operate in a global labour market where it is necessary to recruit and retain highly skilled candidates. This change will make it easier for Ireland’s sporting bodies to attract and recruit coaches and directors with international experience, particularly when it comes to training up the next generation of Irish sports stars.


“Currently most coaches, apart from those at the top level, come in under the Sports and Cultural Employment Permit, which doesn’t allow them immediate family reunification and access to the labour market for their spouses and partners or to fast-track to permanent residency after two years. All of this will be available as they will now be able to access the Critical Skills Employment Permit.”


The minister gave details how the changes were also necessary following the ongoing Brexit situation. She said plans are under way to bring extra 300 workers to Ireland to fill positions in the area of customs duties and controls – a key Brexit challenge.


“Currently there are no labour shortages for transport and distribution clerks or other logistics personnel. However, the evidence suggests that in the event of Brexit, managed or otherwise, there will be a sharp increase in demand for these skills.


“For this reason, as part of the Government’s overall contingency planning, I believe that it is prudent to make these extra allowances now.”

TAGS : minister Brexit government labour market
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