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Update on employment permit eligibility for construction, logistics, hospitality & agri-food sectors

On the 27th October, Damien English TD announced changes to the employment permits system for workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), following a comprehensive review by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. This change is set to address the severe labour shortage in the Construction, Logistics, Hospitality and Agri-food sectors.

The main changes include:

  • Most construction sector jobs now eligible for a General Employment Permit

  • Quota to be removed for HGV driver work permits

  • 350 General Employment Permits for hospitality managers

  • Social Workers to be eligible for Critical Skills Employment Permit

  • Dispensing Opticians to be eligible for General Employment Permit

  • New General Employment Permit quotas for 1,000 Horticulture Operatives, 500 Meat Deboners, 1500 Meat Processing operatives and 100 Dairy Farm Assistants; with a strategic review of labour attraction and retention in the sector to follow

  • New General Employment Permit quota of 100 for Work Riders

The newly eligible roles within the construction sector are:

  • Electricians

  • Masons

  • Roofers, Roof Tilers and Slaters

  • Plumbers and Heating & Ventilating Engineers

  • Carpenters & Joiners

  • Floorers and Wall Tilers

  • Painters and Decorators

  • Construction and Building Trades Supervisors

This now means that almost all occupations in the construction sector are eligible for a General Employment Permit.

Transport, Logistics and Supply Chain Sector

In support of supply chains and cognisant of the ongoing issues facing transport and logistic operators, exacerbated by Covid-19 and Brexit, Minister English has announced that any HGV drivers recruited from outside the EEA will be eligible for an employment permit without the limitation of a quota. The quota has been in existence since 2017 and was extended previously in 2019. As of today, the quota is not yet fully used up so does not present an immediate constraint on labour supply.

Hospitality Sector

Businesses in the Hospitality sector in Ireland employed some 260,000 people prior to the pandemic. They have suffered disproportionately from Covid-19 with unprecedented levels of temporary business closures and corresponding staff layoffs. Industry surveys from July identified significant vacancies, including at managerial levels. The Tourism and Hospitality Careers Oversight Group, chaired by Fáilte Ireland, collaborate on a number of initiatives to address labour supply and skills requirements in the sector and to help with recruitment and retention of staff.