Effecting change in the Employment Permit system in Ireland

The Employment permit system in Ireland is governed by three lists, two are quantified within the system, the third list is implied.  The Critical Skills Occupation List details the occupations that are sought- after in the Irish jobs market and are eligible for a preferential employment permit.  The Ineligible List of Occupations details those occupations where, in general, an employment permit will not be granted under any circumstances.  The third list includes all other occupations not covered by the first two lists.  Usually a General Employment permit will be available for these occupations provided the other conditions governing the issue of a permit are complied with.

The Critical Skills and Ineligible lists are provided for in Regulations – as at date of writing they are provided for under the Employment Permits (Amendment) Regulations 2018.  However, both lists are usually amended on a twice-yearly basis.  The mechanism for the revision takes the form of an open call for public submissions with a reasonably short closing date, usually four to five weeks.  Submissions are then given to various line Departments for comment and observation to promote an integrated approach across Government.

As part of the process, input is considered from Solas (the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit – www.solas.ie ), The Expert Group on Future Skills needs (see www.skillsireland.ie for more information),and the National Skills Council in the Department of Education and Skills.  Other government initiatives are also taken into account when considering changes to the Occupation lists.

Submissions to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation must where possible be evidence based.  This means that it is not simply enough to advertise a vacancy and have not suitable candidates following the recruitment process, but you must be able to demonstrate that the shortage of candidates is due to a systemic shortage within the Irish Labour market.  As Ireland is a member of the European Union, and citizens of the union (and EEA citizens) can apply for vacancies in Ireland, it is important to demonstrate that the shortage is EU/EEA wide as Community Preference applies to all occupations, i.e. vacancies should be filled from within the EU in the first place.

It is also important to show that the shortage of skilled candidates is genuine and does not simply arise due to temporary conditions in the labour market covering the retention of applicants.  The evidence should also show that the Governments development and training policies are not being undermined.  Finally, it must be shown that there are no suitable EEA nationals available throughout Europe.

Making a submission – practical aspects

When making a submission seeking to change the Occupation lists, you will be asked to provide your details and those of your organisation, together with an overview of the Sector that the vacancy covers.  You must then provide details of the occupation you are seeking to have listed on one or other of the lists, including elements of remuneration and the expected qualifications of a successful candidate for the position.  Following this you will be asked to provide a certain amount of detail regarding the reasons for the adjustment of the lists.

You must also be able to provide an overview of the commitment of the industry to providing for this shortage in terms of the training and innovation within the industry, detailing also any initiatives pursued by the industry related to the shortage.

Turning to the Community Preference aspect of the Governments Employment Permit policy, you should also be able to provide information on the efforts by various national and EU initiatives to fill vacancies with existing jobseekers.

Where possible you should also be able to show what efforts you have made at consulting industry-wide representative groups or bodies.

I hope this short overview has given you some food for thought, and as usual, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to get in touch.

All the best, Conor

PS, I’ll cover Occupation Code classifications next week