Radical shake-up of work permits scheme to attract skilled overseas workers

22 Feb 2013

The Irish Government is to shake up the work permit processing system in a bid to attract overseas workers to fill skill gaps in crucial areas like ICT and engineering. The move has been identified as a key facet of the Irish Government’s Action Plan to create 100,000 jobs by 2015.

At present there are as many as 5,000 job vacancies in Ireland’s burgeoning ICT sector and this gap could be exacerbated as Ireland hurtles towards becoming the digital capital of Europe. In the past week, 100 new jobs were created at Facebook in Dublin and a further 100 were announced at digital advertising giant Quantcast.

The prevailing wisdom is that for every one job filled in the ICT sector a further five jobs are generated in the local economy in areas such as retail and services.

In other words, simplifying the permit scheme to attract skilled professionals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) is critical for a country like Ireland, whose future no longer pivots on areas like property and construction but emerging industries like ICT, life sciences and medical devices.

Contained in the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 is a section called ‘Attracting Necessary Skills from Abroad’, which indicates some 700 additional permits will be provided to the ICT sector in 2013.

This year, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will create a new unified employment permits application e-form that will streamline the application process.

The Government will perform a wider review of permit schemes for various industries, with a particular emphasis on ICT.

It also promises to align the employment permits scheme for workers from outside the EEA on an ongoing basis.

Crucially, and employers in the ICT sector will be glad to hear this, it intends to reduce processing times by 33pc.

The plan involves ensuring there is a supply of skilled ICT workers from overseas to benefit all sectors of the economy.

This will involve reducing the wage threshold limit for work permits for ICT graduates and graduates who work in technical sales with foreign language skills.

It will also assess the case for expansion of the eligibility of residency permissions under the employment permit schemes.

One proposal involves the development of a ‘trusted partner’ registration which will provide for the pre-registration of prospective employers which will speed up the processing of applications for permits.

This will reduce the need for provision of duplicates of employers’ credentials with each permit application and reduce the administrative burden on employers.

In addition, the Action Plan involves the development of a communications strategy to present clear options on entry channels to Ireland for professionals, including the Department of Jobs and the Department of Justice communicating the difference between employment permits and work visas.

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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