Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
61. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will be allocating additional permits for dairy farm workers given the various reports of skills shortages in this industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53429/21]
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. The lists are reviewed twice a year to ensure their ongoing relevance to the State’s human capital requirements. Consideration is also taken of the views of the Economic Migration Interdepartmental Group, chaired by my Department and of the relevant policy Departments including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The reviews involve a public consultation with submissions invited from sectors.
In the most recent review ten submissions were received from the Agri-Food sector referring to occupations in the horticulture, dairy, pig and poultry industries and meat processing.
The outcome of the most recent review was announced on 28 October. A press release is available on my Department’s website.
As a result of the review and in light of the continued labour shortages in the Agriculture and Agri-Food Sector, I decided to extend previous quotas to release 1000 general employment permits for horticulture operatives, 500 for meat deboners, 1500 for meat processing operatives and 100 for Dairy Farm Assistants. The quota for Dairy Farm Assistants of 100 General Employment Permits is subject to the minimum annual remuneration threshold of €30,000. This quota, as with all the agricultural quotas will be followed by a strategic review of labour attraction and retention.
The Dairy Farm Assistant quota is expected to assist with the challenges of the sector in securing sufficient labour, particularly during the busy spring 2022 period when it is expected that family labour will become less available than in 2020 and 2021 as the economy reopens following the pandemic.