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In a landmark move, the government has recently announced an extensive expansion of the employment permits system, marking the largest ever initiative to date. This decision aims to address the prevalent skills gap across various critical sectors, all within the context of full employment in the economy. The changes include the addition of 11 new roles to the list of occupations deemed critical skills and the extension of eligibility for General Employment Permits to 32 additional roles.

Expansion of Critical Skills Occupations:

Among the noteworthy changes are the inclusion of roles such as Meteorologist, Project Engineer, Professional Forester, and Optometrist in the critical skills category. Recognizing the evolving needs of the workforce, the government seeks to enhance the country’s capabilities in these key areas by facilitating the entry of skilled professionals.

General Employment Permits Updates:

The list of roles eligible for General Employment Permits has expanded, encompassing essential positions like Social Care Worker, Genetic Counsellor, Play Therapist, Autism Assistance Dog Instructor, Pig Managers, Car and Heavy Goods Vehicle Mechanics. These changes reflect a proactive response to the growing demand for skilled workers and the evolving landscape of employment requirements.

Government Perspectives:

The government aims to bridge the skills gaps positively affecting businesses nationwide. Minister of State for Business, Employment, and Retail, Neale Richmond, emphasized the impact of full employment on the heightened demand for employment permits. Last year there were 40,000 thousand permits issued, with over 31,000 permits issued to workers outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Minister Richmond emphasized the vital role economic migration plays in Ireland’s economy and society. Migrant workers bring essential skills, diverse experiences, and cultural richness to the workforce.

Salary Requirement Adjustments:

To keep pace with economic growth and inflation, the government has revised salary requirements for General Employment Permit holders. Starting in January, most permit holders will see salary requirements increase from €30,000 to €34,000 annually, the first adjustment in over a decade. Healthcare assistants, home carers, horticultural workers, and meat processors will also witness increases, aligning their salary thresholds with family reunification standards.

Quota Extensions:

In addition to salary adjustments, the quotas for dairy farm assistants, butcher/deboners, meat processors, and horticultural workers will be extended. This strategic move aligns with the government’s commitment to addressing critical labor shortages in key sectors.

Labour Market Needs Test (LMNT):

Introducing the Labour Market Needs Test for General Employment Permit applications, the government underscores the importance of aligning these tests with the revised salary thresholds. This measure ensures that applications accurately reflect the evolving landscape of employment needs in the country.


The government’s comprehensive overhaul of the employment permits system signals a proactive approach to addressing the current skills gap. By adapting salary thresholds, expanding critical skills occupations, and implementing phased changes, Ireland aims to foster a resilient workforce and promote sustainable economic growth.