283,000 On Dole And Meat Industry Can’t Find Workers

10 Aug 2018 | 03.35 pm

283,000 On Dole And Meat Industry Can’t Find Workers

500 permits for non-EU hires

10 Aug 2018 | 03.35 pm

Business minister Heather Humphreys is making it easier from for meat processors to hire workers from outside Ireland and outside the European Union.  

A pilot quota-based scheme was rolled out earlier this year to address labour shortages in the horticulture, meat processing and dairy sectors. A quota of 250 work permits for meat processing operatives and a remuneration threshold of €22,000 was introduced, with employers obliged to ensure access to accommodation and language training.

Strong demand for the permits has led the minister to extend the scheme by adding 500 more permits.

The meat processing sector’s requirement to import workers from outside the EU is despite the fact that 283,000 people in Ireland (including 49,000 people on activation programmes) are currently claiming weekly unemployment payments.

Heather Humphreys said: “The agrifood sector is our most important indigenous sector, employing some 173,000 people. Its reach into rural Ireland brings jobs and value to every region. With the opening up of new markets such as to China, it is critical that there are adequate numbers of trained staff to meet the demands of this lucrative market for Irish meat exports.

“I continue to be conscious that any changes to the employment permit regime must not disrupt the domestic labour market. In the longer-term, sectors experiencing labour shortages need to take action to attract and retain labour supply from within Ireland and across Europe and to invest in innovative technologies.”

Across the economy, 11,350 employment permits were issued in 2017,  a 21% increase on the previous year.  To date in 2018, 7,050 permits have been issued to companies hiring non-EU nationals.

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