Five hundred new permits for meat plant operatives for workers from outside Europe have been announced by the Dublin government due to an ongoing labour shortage in the sector.
Announcing the move the Dublin Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, T.D., said the move was being made to meet "immediate labour difficulties", however, she insisted it was the Irish Government's policy to encourage industry to attract and retain labour supply from within Ireland and Europe.
Mrs. Humphreys signed off on further changes to Employment Permit Regulations, which will make it easier for the meat processing sector to source workers from outside the EEA. The changes provide for the provision of 500 permits for meat processor operatives in addition to the 250 announced in May 2018.
“The extension of the pilot scheme for meat processing operatives will ensure that the sectors immediate labour difficulties are addressed and the potential that a lack of available labour could constrict growth is minimised," she said.
“The agri-food sector is our most important indigenous sector, employing some 173,000 people and contributing almost 8% to gross national income. 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 highly 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 for the sector,” added Mrs. Humphreys.
The report of the review of economic migration policies underpinning the employment permit system has just been submitted to Minister Humphreys.
The purpose of the review is to ensure that our current policies are fully supportive of Ireland’s emerging labour market needs.
The review, which was overseen by an interdepartmental group, makes recommendations for a strategy for economic migration to meet the State’s changing needs into the future. Following consideration by the Minister, it is expected that the review report will be published.