State is issuing record number of work permits as unemployment falls despite technological slowdown

The Department for Enterprise has issued a record number of work permits this year after clearing a backlog of applications built up during the pandemic.

To date, 38,000 permits have been approved for non-EEA nationals, which is more than double the number in 2021.

At the current rate of about 3,500 permits issued per month, the state is on track to permit well over 40,000 workers this year.

That number is well above the previous peak of 2008, when 29,394 permits were issued on the brink of the deep recession that followed the financial crisis.

The big spike in permit issuance comes as the post-Covid labor shortage has brought unemployment down to just 4.4 per cent – nearly a two-decade low – and has forced companies to seek foreign workers to fill staffing gaps close.

The technology, health and agriculture sectors are the largest users of the work permit system, accounting for more than half of approved applications this year. Amazon and Google are among the companies that rely the most on licensed labor.

Despite getting more than 10,000 permits this year, the IT sector is still in the process of shedding thousands of jobs in Ireland as part of a global slowdown in technology affecting some of the country’s biggest employers.

Meta, which is reportedly cutting 900 jobs in Ireland, was granted just 37 work permits for its Facebook business this year, none later than April.

Many of the permits issued this year come from a backlog of 10,900 applications that spiraled out of control in 2021. This was due to increased demand as well as staffing and workflow disruptions caused by Covid.

According to a spokesman for the ministry, fewer than 1,000 applications from this bundle are still pending.

The spokesman said the wait in line for permits has improved from 21 weeks last year to just three to eight days in 2022.

Employment permits are only granted for positions that cannot be filled from the available labor pool in Ireland and the rest of the EEA.

Business and Employment Minister Damien English said in July the government would introduce legislation to simplify the system

The reforms include seasonal permits, a simpler needs test, and revised permit criteria to speed up the processing of applications. State is issuing record number of work permits as unemployment falls despite technological slowdown

Fry Electronics Team

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