Wednesday, 28 June 2023
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
42. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport what assistance measures he can put in place, or what measures he would consider, to assist bus companies (details supplied) with the high costs of applications for work permits for drivers, having had to source them from outside this jurisdiction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31500/23]
My Department engaged with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) in Q4 2022 in relation to work permits for bus drivers from non-EU and non-EEA Countries and the possible inclusion of bus drivers on the critical skills list due to the current driver shortages being experienced across the system. My Department engaged with all PSO operators, including Bus Éireann, and representatives from the commercial bus sector as part of this process.
As a result of this engagement, in December 2022 the Minister for DETE announced that changes had been made to the permit system to help ease the recruitment challenges being faced in the transport sector with the establishment of a quota of 1,500 employment permits for bus and coach drivers. These changes came into effect on the 16th of December 2022.
In relation to the cost of applications, my Department contacted DETE and have been advised that, DETE operates a managed employment permits system which maximises the benefits of economic migration while minimising the risk of disrupting Ireland’s labour market. The system is managed through the operation of the Critical Skills and Ineligible Occupations lists which determine employments that are either in high demand or are ineligible for consideration for an employment permit.
All employment permit applications are processed in line with the Employment Permits Act 2006, as amended, and are dependent on a job offer from an Irish registered employer for an eligible occupation. All employment permits granted are employer and employee specific, which provides for the permit holder to be employed by the employer in the specific role stated on the permit held.
Fees for employment permits are charged on a statutory basis and operate on the principle of cost recovery, set at a level to ensure the full cost of activities and services are recovered in the medium term. However, there is an expectation that there is a nexus between income from the imposition of a fee and expenditure of administrating the service, including enforcement and provision of information, in the medium term.
The fees in place for an Employment Permit are consistent across all sectors. DETE has no plans to reduce the cost for specific sectors in the coming future.