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Satisfying Labour Demand Through Migration: Ireland

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Abstract

The current study investigates Ireland’s approach to satisfying labour and skills demand through migration in the period 2004-2010. The emphasis is on non-EU economic immigration but information is also provided on EU immigration where relevant. Policy information and data is provided on economic migrants, where relevant divided into highly skilled, skilled and low skilled workers. Ireland’s policy on labour migration is to meet all labour and skills needs from within the enlarged EEA as far as is possible, and to limit non-EEA labour migration to that of the most highly skilled and hard to find workers. Data from the Quarterly National Household Survey show that the proportion of non-Irish nationals is lowest in the high occupational skill grouping. Within the non-Irish groups highly skilled occupations have been dominated by nationals from other EU15 States and by migrants from outside the EU. In skilled and low skilled occupations nationals from the enlarged EU (EU10/12) clearly dominate.

The Irish employment permits system is described and assessed. It is shown that the system is lightly regulated and employer-led and that it functioned well during the boom in sourcing the workers required. With rising unemployment there are now only very limited skills shortages in Ireland.

Recent changes to the economic permits system in light of the economic downturn are discussed. Employment permit data show that the percentage of employment permits refused more than doubled between 2008 and 2009 while the number of new permits issued fell by 54 per cent in the same period.

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Author: Emma Quinn
Publisher: Economic and Social Research Institute
Date of Publication: 19 November 2010
Reference Period: 01 January 2004 to 31 March 2010
Geographical focus: Ireland
ISBN: 978 0 7070 0308 5

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