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New EMN Ireland Publication on Attracting Highly Qualified and Qualified Third-Country Nationals: Ireland

Date Published: 06-09-2013

This new report shows that despite the recession, Ireland is actively competing for certain highly-skilled non-EEA workers in sectors such as IT, engineering, finance and healthcare.

Main points of the report

New government policies have been developed in order for Ireland to compete for key non-EEA workers, including:

  • Initiatives to ease immigration-related barriers to employment e.g. faster processing of employment permit applications;
  • Facilitated access to employment permits by highly-skilled workers, in key occupations identified on a Highly-Skilled Occupations list;
  • Introduction of new programmes targeting non-EEA investors and entrepreneurs;
  • New initiatives to attract and retain to certain third-level non-EEA students.

Of all workers employed in Ireland in 2012, 3.9% were non-EEA nationals, just below the EU27 average of 4.1%.

Are the policies working in terms of attracting highly-skilled workers?

Irish policies have been particularly effective in prioritising highly-skilled workers:

  • Data show that almost half of non-EU nationals in employment in Ireland were working in high-skilled occupations. Among 20 EU states for which data are available, only the UK and Luxembourg showed higher proportions.
  • Almost 70% of non-EU nationals at work in Ireland have high levels of education. This is the highest percentage among the 20 EU states for which data are available.
  • Using annual remuneration as a proxy for skill level, national data show a growing proportion of employment permits issued to workers earning €60,000 and over: from 12% in 2008, to 25% in 2012.

However shortages of highly-skilled workers in ICT, healthcare and financial services sectors persist. Specific skills mixes, such as foreign languages and business skills, are also in demand.

Policy challenges

The absence of clearly defined family reunification and long-term residence schemes are among possible barriers to attracting non-EEA nationals to Ireland.

For further information:

Download report

Read press release

Note: EEA: European Economic Area comprises EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. A synthesis report will be published in the coming weeks providing an overview of participating EU Member State studies.

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