Written answers

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Work Permits

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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1. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to reopen applications for work permits for dairy farm assistants in early 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22385/21]

Photo of Damien EnglishDamien English (Meath West, 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 and the ineligible occupations lists which determine employments that are either in high demand or are ineligible for consideration for an employment permit. The lists are subject to twice yearly reviews which are evidence based and are guided by research undertaken by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) and the Skills and the Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) in SOLAS, a public consultation process, input from the relevant policy 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 and their impact on the labour market.

The pilot quota-based scheme introduced in May 2018 following consideration of a detailed business case submitted by the sector, provided a quota of 150 general employment permits for the occupation of Dairy Farm Assistant.  This pilot scheme has proved very successful for a range of employers in the sector and the quota of 150 employment permits is now exhausted. 

Consideration of the submissions received to the current occupations lists review is underway, including from the farming sector, and scheduled to be finalised in the coming weeks.

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