Skilled workers moving, but gaps remain

Half of non-EU nationals at work here are in high-skilled jobs

The IFSC area in Dublin: the recession may be acting as a deterrent to skilled workers from abroad, the study found. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The IFSC area in Dublin: the recession may be acting as a deterrent to skilled workers from abroad, the study found. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 


Government policies to attract skilled employees from outside the EU have worked, but shortages persist in areas including ICT, healthcare and financial services, a new study has found.

The research from the European Migration NetworkAttracting Highly Qualified and Qualified Third-Country Nationals: Ireland – identifies the absence of clear policies on family reunification and long-term residence for non-EU workers as possible barriers to international recruitment in squeezed sectors. The Republic has declined to “opt-in” to EU directives in both areas.

The recession may also be acting as a deterrent to highly skilled workers from abroad, according to the study’s authors, Emma Quinn and Egle Gusciute, based at the ESRI.

The study shows that almost half of the non-EU nationals at work in the Republic are involved in high-skilled occupations, with only the UK and Luxembourg showing higher proportions among 20 states collecting data. Almost 70 per cent of non-EU workers in Ireland are educated to degree level or above – the highest proportion among the same 20 states – while a quarter of employment permits are issued to workers earning more than €60,000.

As well as identifying shortages in ICT, healthcare, engineering and financial services, the authors highlight a deficit in the availability of skills such as foreign language proficiency and training in business.

In general, though, the authors find that Irish policies have been “particularly effective” in prioritising highly skilled immigrants. Successful initiatives include allowing some health staff to work without employment permits and issuing green cards to highly qualified workers in other sectors. Since July this year, non-EU workers who want to attend interview in Ireland can apply for special temporary permission to do so and, if successful, apply to remain in the State for up to 90 days while seeking an employment permit.

Official policy is to meet Ireland’s skills needs from within the European Economic Area, which covers the EU, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.