Applications for visas to work here hit 10-year high
There has been a surge in the number of foreign workers applying for visas to work in Ireland.
The spike in applications saw more permits granted in October 2018 than in any month in the past 10 years, with 1,520 visas granted.
This year overall applications are up 30pc on last year.
The permit system is in place for non-EU workers who wish to move here for work. In recent years it has focused on attracting high-skilled workers, with special designations for certain industries as the need arose.
However, as the country approaches full employment there are gaps emerging in low-skilled jobs.
The Department of Business has recommended that changes to the scheme are made including the introduction of a seasonal employment permit and changes to the twice-yearly review of the scheme to make it more responsive to the changing needs of the labour market.
Clare Dunne, from the Department of Business, discussed the issue at an Oireachtas Business Committee and said the increased demand has led to delays in processing applications. However she said work is under way to address this.
For "trusted partners" who use the permit scheme on a regular basis the wait is five weeks for applications, instead of the usual two weeks. For standard applications the wait is 11 weeks rather than the usual four.
Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher questioned if, post-Brexit, Ireland was going to face further labour market challenges with the UK looking to Ireland to fill gaps that may emerge without a flow of workers from Europe.
However, the committee heard the high wages paid here should offset those risks. The committee also heard there has been no evidence to date of people choosing to come to Ireland to work here instead of the UK as a result of Brexit.