Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
23. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which he plans to expand the work permit scheme; if he will consider the pig industry having regard to the concern expressed regarding labour shortages in this sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49167/21]
The employment permits system is designed to facilitate the entry of appropriately skilled non-EEA nationals to fill skills and/or labour shortages, in circumstances where there are no suitably qualified Irish/EEA nationals available to undertake the work and that the shortage is a genuine one.
The system is managed through the use of lists designating highly skilled and ineligible occupations. In order to maintain the relevance of these lists of occupations to the needs of the economy and to ensure their ongoing relevance to the State’s human capital requirements, they undergo twice-yearly evidence-based reviews. The reviews are guided by research undertaken by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN), the Skills and the Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU), SOLAS and involves public/stakeholder consultation. Account is taken of education outputs, sectoral upskilling and training initiatives and known contextual factors such as Brexit and, in the current context, COVID-19 and their impact on the labour market. Consideration is also taken of the views of the Economic Migration Interdepartmental Group, chaired by my Department and of the relevant policy Departments. Officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine are represented on the Economic Migration Interdepartmental Group.
In May 2018, my Department introduced a pilot quota-based scheme to remove the occupations of horticulture worker, meat processing operative and dairy farm assistant from the ineligible occupations list. This pilot scheme proved very successful. These three quotas have been filled.
The current review of the occupations lists is drawing to a close with submissions received from a range of sectors - including from the pig industry – considered during the process. It is expected that the final report on the review will be submitted for approval shortly and any changes necessary to deal with verified skills or labour shortages will be made in the coming weeks.