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More than 10,500 work permits were issued in 2017. This year, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation plans to loosen up visa regulations for “lower-skilled workers” in some sectors.

In October, the number of unemployed was 246,900, in November it fell to 244,300. The Department wants to keep up this trend of falling unemployment and rising wages. It’s “timely to fundamentally review the policies underpinning the current employment permits regime, to ensure that it is fully supportive of Ireland’s emerging labour market needs, be they skills or labour shortages in certain sectors”.

Still, the government is cautious about opening the labour market to “unskilled non-EEA workers”. There is a need to eliminate labour shortages in the key sector but at the same time, there is a fear of disrupting the Irish labour market.

The agriculture, construction and restaurant industries are all for opening up the permits system. These sectors acutely suffer from the shortage of staff, both skilled and unskilled.

“It’s not just us, it’s the farmers as well, the construction industry is crying out for staff and we are nearly at full employment. The department is going to mess up our entire growth in our economy by being stuck in the dark ages around work permits,” – Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland.

The struggles of the Irish construction companies to hire workers may deepen the housing crisis in the country.

Craft workers such as plumbers, plasterers and electricians and professionals such as quantity surveyors and engineers are desperately needed, especially in the Greater Dublin Area. So companies are actively recruiting workers and specialists from Eastern Europe.

However, coming to work in Ireland from abroad is not that simple. Foreign workers, who can help solve the housing crisis in Ireland, are… struggling to find a place to live themselves. The rents are going up and it is increasingly difficult to find an apartment or a house near work, especially if one is working in a big city.

More on the housing crisis in Ireland

The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) expect the government to take measures to tackle high costs of residential construction and break this vicious circle.


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