During 2020, slightly over 16,000 employment work permits were issued to workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), despite the limited travel limitations and job opportunities due to the COVID pandemic. This has been the largest amount of work permits issued out since the beginning of issuing said permits in 2009.
Many of the companies that are searching for employees are those int eh social media, meat, or healthcare industry. Healthcare workers took up nearly a third of all work permits issued and received last year at over 5000 workers recruited from outside the EEA. The second-largest sector is the IT sector following up with around 4700 permits. Interestingly, over a third of last year’s total was issued to workers that came from India, totaling nearly 5800 permits. Following that, 1800 permits came from Brazilians and over 1000 came from Palestinian workers.
Some of the largest companies to make use of these work permits included Amazon, Accenture, Facebook, Google, and Dawn Meats which is one of Ireland’s largest meat processing companies. Despite the pandemic occurring and even at the peak of the situation in April, a total of 1700 permits were granted that month due to the large increase in demand for medical staff by hospitals and other healthcare facilities in order to battle the increasing amount of patients being admitted.
While there has been a historically high number of work permits being permitted this last year, the process of obtaining said work permit is not an easy one. In order for employers to issue permits, they must first pass the Labour Market Needs Test that qualifies them as a company or organization that are allowed to hire workers from outside the EEA. To do so, the company must have outreached and posted the job opening for a minimum of four weeks through the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. In addition to that, there are numerous kinds of work permits totaling nine different types. These various types of permits have specific requirements for each and even so, there are still a variety number of jobs that are completely ineligible for any type of employment permits. This includes positions such as physiotherapists, receptions, bank clerks, and even hotel managers. Even after obtaining a work permit, they are not permanent and only last for up to two years, with being able to be renewed for another three years.
Even as the pandemic continues to rage into 2021, we can expect to see the professional world continue to function and require a demand for work permits to fill the job positions within the EEA.
Lucas Zhang was a Finance major at Ohio State University. He writes about finance, mortgages, and technology for Irish Mortgage Brokers.