Written answers

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Department of Education and Skills

Further Education and Training Programmes

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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92. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the number of healthcare assistants being trained is being increased through FETAC and-or SOLAS training programmes in view of the shortage of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43866/19]

Photo of John HalliganJohn Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
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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 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 a review in March 2019, the role of Healthcare Assistant was not proposed for amendment at that 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 to clearly demonstrate efforts to address sectoral recruitment/retention issues and 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. 

A further review  of the Occupational Lists is currently underway. Submissions received, including those for the role of healthcare assistant, 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.


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