Ireland has relaxed the rules for attracting seasonal workers from outside the European Union (EU) for agriculture and livestock. The coronavirus pandemic has caused many foreign workers to return to their country of origin in the last year and a half, causing Ireland to face major labour shortages.
Following the resumption of international travel, there are still many vacancies in Ireland. This has risks for supply chains and harvests. Ireland is an outlier in Europe because it does not have a (temporary) seasonal permit, but only a permanent one.
With the economy picking up again, the Irish agri-food industry is able to find more than 3,000 workers from outside the EU. The new rules cover 1,000 licences for horticultural workers, 500 for meat ontbonders, 1,500 for meat processors and 100 for dairy farmers. The extension does not apply to pig farming and the poultry sector. According to the Irish government, sufficient unskilled personnel are available for this in Ireland and the other EU countries.
Ireland’s quota system for work permits was originally designed to attract highly skilled workers from outside the European union, but it will also be temporarily opened for jobs with less training. In addition to the agri-food permits, Ireland also announced employment permits for other sectors.