Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Work Permits

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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608. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if her Department is considering reviewing the current work permits regime in view of Covid-19. [6428/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The employment permits system is designed to facilitate the entry of appropriately skilled non-EEA nationals to fill skills and/or labour shortages, however, this objective must be balanced by the need to ensure that there are no suitably qualified Irish/EEA nationals available to undertake the work and that the shortage is a genuine one.

In order to ensure that the employment permits system is responsive to changes in economic circumstances and labour market conditions, it is managed through the operation of the Critical Skills Occupations List and the Ineligible Occupations List for the purpose of granting an employment permit which are subject to twice yearly reviews. These reviews are evidence based and are guided by research undertaken by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) and the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) in SOLAS, a public consultation process, input from the relevant Government Departments and the Economic Migration Inter-Departmental Group, chaired by the Department. Account is also taken of contextual factors such as Brexit and , in the current context, COVID 19.  

Clearly the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to severely impact our economy, will cause us to look closely at the evolving challenges that present in the labour market for some time to come.  Based on the evidence, submissions received, consultation with key stakeholders and the input of the Interdepartmental Group any changes proposed to the employment permits regime will be submitted for my consideration and approval. 

A fundamental review of Economic Migration Policy, in 2018, indicated that the employment permits system, while providing a robust basis for the management of economic migration, the current legislation imposed a degree of inflexibility on the operation of the system. The review overseen by the Economic Migration Interdepartmental Group, included a public consultation process and an international benchmarking exercise. The Review’s recommendations included the drafting of a new bill to adjust the legislative structure of the system, to allow for swift responses to changes in labour supply and demand, or employment practices. Government approval has been secured for the General Scheme and work has commenced on the development of the legislation. 

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