The Department of Enterprise is on track to clear a backlog of thousands of unprocessed work permit applications after implementing an emergency workforce plan that has tripled the headcount of some departments.
New data from the department shows year-to-date throughput of work permits for nationals outside the European Economic Area (EEA) is about three times faster than last year.
More than 12,000 permits had already been granted by the end of April, compared with 16,275 for all of 2021, when the department ended the year with more than 10,000 pending applications.
This backlog is expected to be reduced in 2022, as the processing time has been reduced from an average of 21 weeks to six weeks since the beginning of the year. A spokesman said the current turnaround time will be maintained or improved.
“All flexible resources have now been reallocated to reduce processing times for general work permit applications, and the department expects wait times to continue to decrease,” the spokesman said.
The department was taking longer to process applications due to a combination of telecommuting, increased demand and last summer’s HSE cyberattack, which disrupted the system for hiring medical staff from abroad.
Work permit applications in 2021 also rose 69 percent year-on-year to 27,666 as hospitals and multinational tech companies embarked on a hiring frenzy to cope with the surge in demand from Covid.
Authorizations will only be granted for posts that cannot be filled from the available labor pool in Ireland and the rest of the EEA.
Permits for IT and healthcare workers still dominate this year, with nearly 3,500 being awarded to technicians and another 2,700 to medical workers.
But permits for farm workers are increasing this year, with nearly 2,000 issued for the sector – one of the largest. Horticultural and meat workers were added to the occupation list for non-EEA work permits last October, resulting in an additional 3,000 applications, adding to the existing backlog.
The spokesman said this will be fully resolved by the end of next week.
Some industries, such as transportation and hospitality, have complained that slow turnaround times are exacerbating labor shortages.
https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/work-permit-backlog-for-industries-now-on-track-to-be-cleared-41637245.html The backlog of work permits for industries is now to be reduced