800 jobs offered to non-EU workers to fill chronic shortages
Up to 800 meat factory, horticulture and dairy farm workers from outside Europe will be offered jobs on minimum pay of €22,000 a year to fill chronic shortages in the agri-food industry.
The Government plans to issue 500 employment permits for horticulture workers, 250 for meat processor operatives and 50 for dairy farm assistants under a new pilot scheme that comes into force next Monday.
A spokesperson at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation said the number of permits issued represents just a quarter of the vacancies that exist in the sectors.
He said the scheme will make it easier for businesses to source workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It means these roles that were ineligible for employment permits will be temporarily removed.
There will be a minimum "remuneration threshold" of €22,000 for the jobs and employers must ensure permit holders get decent accommodation, training and language tuition.
To apply for an employment permit, employers must take a 'Labour Market Needs Test'. This means they must advertise the job for two weeks in the Republic and the EEA.
If no one applies for the job, they can apply for a permit for someone outside these areas.
Business, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Heather Humphreys said a review group will report on whether the permits system is fit for purpose next month.