Fine Gael TD, Michelle Mulherin this week has called for reform of the work permit system, which is hindering companies in Ireland to fill vacancies in a number of key areas. She said this week: “I welcome very much confirmation I have just received from Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation that he will investigate the difficulties being experienced by ICT companies in recruiting highly skilled people from outside the European Economic Area on account of our current work permit system. I tabled a motion at a recent Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting which received unanimous support to pursue the introduction of a Technology Visa to fast track the provision of work permits to individuals with the requisite ICT skills and qualifications be pursued to address the significant shortage of design engineers in this country and the EU which is hampering the fulfilment of our economic growth in the digital and technological sectors and pursuant to this Minister Bruton has given me this commitment.
“Already we have over 97,000 people directly employed in the digital technology sector in this country and indeed 10 of the top companies in this field in the world have chosen to set up on our shores and have substantial operations here,” she added. “We know from the regular announcement of new jobs in this sector that Ireland is an attractive place to set up. In fact here is a possibility of tens of thousands more jobs being created and for us to become the new Silicon Valley of Europe. However, it has become very obvious that the current work permit system is hampering the growth of this sector. There is a severe skills shortage in this area not only in Ireland but throughout Europe and it is estimated that there could be a shortage of 700,000 people in this area throughout Europe by 2015. We need to facilitate the ease of entry of highly skilled and educated design engineers from anywhere in the world, many of whom currently are caught in the bureaucracy of the current system. This is a source of considerable frustration to many technology companies operating in Ireland who instance cases of such individuals being refused work permits and who find themselves unable to fill crucial research and development positions by Irish or other European workers. The filling of these key positions is crucial to the creation of further less skilled jobs in what can be described as a work pyramid. Making the work permit system more user friendly and flexible for ICT companies together with the measures currently being undertaken by Government to develop a sustainable domestic supply of high quality ICT graduates will not only support the expansion and development of the ICT sector but also support innovation and growth across other sectors of the economy. The minister is to be commended for his continued work in this vital area to enable us compete internationally and which is making provision for jobs growth now and in the future.” she concluded.