Thursday, 19 May 2022
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
51. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will request that his Department place speech and language therapists on the critical skills list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24867/22]
Ireland’s employment permit system is designed to supplement the State’s skills and labour supply over the short to medium term by allowing enterprises to recruit nationals from outside the EEA, where such skills or expertise cannot be sourced from within the EEA at that time. The system is, by design, vacancy led and managed through the operation of the occupation lists: the critical skills list in respect of skills that are deemed to be critically important to growing Ireland’s economy, are highly demanded and highly skilled professional roles and in significant shortage of supply in our labour market and the ineligible occupations lists for which a ready source of labour is available from within Ireland and the EEA.
In order to maintain the relevance of these lists of occupations to the needs of the economy and to ensure the employment permits system is aligned with current labour market intelligence, these lists undergo regular, evidence-based reviews which 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. Consideration is also taken of the views of the Economic Migration Interdepartmental Group, chaired by my Department and of the relevant policy Departments, in this case the Department of Health.
Changes to the employment permit occupations lists are made where there are no suitable Irish/EEA nationals available, development opportunities are not undermined, genuine skills shortage exists rather than a recruitment or retention problem and Government education, training and economic development policies are supported.
The lists are subject to bi-annual review to ensure their ongoing relevance to the State’s human capital requirements. As part of this review process, the Department invites submissions from industry representatives and stakeholders. The submission process is an opportunity for stakeholders to provide evidence, additional information and potentially different perspectives on the nature and extent of skill shortages. Stakeholder submissions are a vital source of information, helping inform the Department’s final assessment of the status of occupations.
Speech and Language Therapists were removed from the Ineligible Occupations List as part of the outcome of the then review process finalised in June 2021, thereby providing access to General Employment Permits for non-EEA nationals wishing to take up employment in the State.
The General Employment Permit is the primary vehicle used by the State to attract third country nationals in occupations with remuneration thresholds of generally €30,000. In accordance with Employment Permit legislation, in order to ensure that job opportunities are made available to Irish and EEA nationals, employers must satisfy a Labour Market Needs Test before a General Employment Permit (GEP) can be issued to a non-EEA national. This policy fulfils our obligations under the Community Preference principles of membership of the EU.
Department officials are actively engaged with the Department of Health in relation to recruitment challenges for the occupation of Speech and Language Therapist and the Department continues to review the employment permits system in light of changing labour market circumstances.
The next review of the occupations lists is expected to commence with a public consultation in Q2 2022. When open, submissions will be invited from sector representative bodies and interested parties via the Public Consultation Form which will be accessible on the Department’s website.