The Government has announced the largest ever expansion of the employment permits system, in an effort to address the skills gap in a range of key areas amid full employment in the economy.
11 new roles have been added to the list of occupations classed as critical skills, including Meteorologist, Project Engineer, Professional Forester and Optometrist.
While a further 32 roles have been made eligible for General Employment Permits.
These include Social Care Worker, Genetic Counsellor, Play Therapist, Autism Assistance Dog Instructor, Pig Managers, Car and Heavy Goods Vehicle mechanics.
“As a result of effective full employment, demand on the employment permits system is very high,” said Neale Richmond, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail.
“Last year, 40,000 permits were issued, and demand remains high this year with over 31,000 permits issued to workers outside of the EEA who are coming to Ireland to address the real skills shortages that are impacting businesses across the country.”
“The changes made today will benefit businesses and indeed our society greatly.”
The amendments will also see the salary requirements for most General Employment Permit holders rise from €30,000 a year to €34,000 in January, the first change in over a decade.
While healthcare assistants and home carers salary requirement will increase from €27,000 and horticultural workers and meat processor salary requirement will increase from €22,000, to €30,000 in January 2024, bringing them in line with family reunification thresholds.
“The salary thresholds had not changed in some time and had not kept pace with inflation or economic growth,” Mr Richmond said.
“Economic migration has such an important impact on our economy and our society. Migrant workers bring much needed skills and experience to our workforce, and a cultural diversity that greatly benefits Irish society.”
“To recognise this contribution and ensure we are offering good quality employment to these workers, the salary thresholds have been increased.”
He added that in order to balance the rights of workers with the needs of businesses to prepare for the impact of these changes, the increased salaries will be introduced on a phased basis.
The quotas for dairy farm assistants, butcher/deboners, meat processors and horticultural workers will also be extended.
The Government is also to introduce a Labour Market Needs Test (LMNT) for General Employment Permit applications and this will have to reflect the revised thresholds in order to be deemed valid, it said.