If you are from a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and have worked as a chef, healthcare professional or in the construction or haulage industries then you may now have a clearer path to an Irish work permit.
In recent weeks and months the Irish government has enacted a number of changes to Ireland’s employment permit system. These changes, in conjunction with a number of other proposals introduced on January 1, 2020, follow a consistent theme: to make it easier for non-European workers to find a relevant employment permit to their expertise and make the move to Ireland. The latest employment permit changes announced this week continue in this fashion. The move, which follows a review of labour market requirements, is aimed at addressing staff shortages in the hospitality, healthcare and construction sectors.
As you may know, at present non-EEA workers typically need an employment permit to work and live in Ireland. The latest change to the system announced by the Irish government is both widening the list of eligible professions as well as increasing the quota for certain roles. For instance, thanks to this change, chefs will no longer have a maximum quota of 650 permits imposed upon them, and all grades including commis chefs, who had previously been restricted, will be eligible for permits. It is estimated that Ireland needs approximately 5,000 chefs yearly but only 1,800 are trained in Ireland each year, which creates a notable deficit. The move should provide a timely boost to the hospitality sector, which employs 152,000 people, and is struggling to attract and retain sufficient numbers of kitchen staff.
Similarly, the most recent employment permit changes mean that all nurses, not just those with a degree, will also be able to qualify for a Critical Skills Employment Permit. A Critical Skills Employment Permit has the added benefit of allowing the holders the right to immediately bring their spouse with them and gives them a right to work. It also offers a fast-track route to long-term residency after two years. Until now, nurses from outside the EEA with a diploma rather than a degree could only access a General Employment Permit, which carries fewer benefits.
The Government has also decided to add further professional occupations in the construction sector to the Critical Skills Employment Permit list, and remove roles such as foreman, architectural technician and construction safety officer from the ineligible list. This decision will ultimately mean that more non-EEA construction workers will be able to obtain a Critical Skills Employment Permit and find work in Ireland.
Speaking on the latest changes to the employment permit rules in Ireland for non-EEA workers, Minister Heather Humphreys of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation had this to say:
“A strong economy and full employment present their own challenges as labour shortages in certain sectors demonstrate. I am pleased to announce these changes, which will fill immediate gaps in businesses across a range of sectors.”
The latest review, which came into effect from January 01, 2020 is as a result of a twice-yearly review of the relevant employment permit lists in operation in Ireland. These reviews hold even more significance given that Ireland’s unemployment rate is currently at 4.8 percent and teetering close to full employment. In addition, Britain’s looming exit from the EU and an Irish general election scheduled for Spring 2020 all indicate that we could see further changes to Ireland’s employment system in the near future. And if we do then you’ll be the first to hear about it!