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Non-EU workers offered €64,000 wages to help plug skill shortages

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Requested the review of permits: Business Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Justin Farrelly

Requested the review of permits: Business Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Justin Farrelly

Requested the review of permits: Business Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Justin Farrelly

Workers from outside the EU will be offered wages of at least €64,000 a year from early next year to shore up the worst skills shortages in the State.

A new Government review of the work permits system to be published today recommends a 7pc hike in the minimum rates paid to attract workers to industries facing the most severe staff scarcities.

The expert report by an interdepartmental group comes as the applications for employment permits have soared by 29pc already this year.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys, who requested the review, has accepted the proposals and the pay rates are due to be rolled out from March next year.

Most of the highly skilled workers recruited from outside the European Economic Area to fill gaps are on 'critical skills' permits, including professionals in medicine, ICT, the sciences, finance and business.

But the minimum pay that employers must offer foreign nationals on the premium 'critical skills' permit, whose expertise and experience is in the shortest supply, will jump from €60,000 to €64,000.

These high earners accounted for 14pc of all work permits granted last year.

Sources said the minimum €30,000 threshold will gradually be increased to catch up with average earnings for all employees, which stand at €37,646 a year.

The report also recommends the rollout of a third pay threshold between the lower and upper limits.

This is aimed at attracting workers, particularly in ICT, who may not have a degree but have experience that is in high demand.

It proposes that the entire work permit system is fast tracked to make it more responsive so that permits can be issued as shortages crop up.

Nursing home employers are also expected to make a case for permits to be issued to meet an urgent labour shortage in the industry shortly.

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