IMPACT – Medium

What are the changes? The number of employment permits issued to non-European Economic Area (EEA) skilled workers fell 23 percent from 2011 to 2012, and the downward trend continues into 2013.

What does the change mean? The change means that in some sectors of the economy, local workers are filling more skilled jobs, while the engineering and technology fields still have labor shortages filled by non-EEA workers.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Permits affected: All types of employment permits, including work permits, green card permits and intra-company transfer permits.
  • Who is affected: Employers and foreign employees assigned in Ireland.
  • Impact on processing times: The decline in employment permits will not affect processing times. In fact, Ireland has relaxed the employment permit process by shortening wait times and loosening document requirements.

Background: According to recent figures, the number of employment permits in the skilled categories fell from 5,200 in 2011 to just over 4,000 in 2012, and stands at 3,276 in 2013 so far.

One reason for the reduced numbers is that Irish workers are better trained than in the past for skilled jobs. Another factor is that Romanian and Bulgarian nationals were granted over 300 work permits in 2012, but are no longer required to obtain work permits in 2013. Those countries are in the final phase of accession to the European Union.

The industries awarded the most employment permits are the information, communication and technology sectors, and a third of the foreign work permits this year were awarded for jobs in the information technology, science and engineering sectors.

BAL analysis: The figures indicate an overall contraction of foreign skilled labor with industry-specific reliance on non-EEA foreign workers, especially in the information technology, science and engineering fields.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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