THE influx of non-Europeans into meat industry jobs has dried up, with only 12 new permits issued this year for meat industry butchers and boners, compared with 297 in 2008.
According to Tánaiste and Education and Science Minister Mary Coughlan, the current Government policy is not to issue new employment permits to persons from outside the state where the salary is less than €30,000, which includes the meat industry.
New permit applications are issued only on an exceptional basis, where employers have been unsuccessful in genuine efforts to recruit suitable candidates from the European Economic Area.
Meanwhile, efforts to provide courses relevant to the skill needs of enterprises including meat processing, continue. FÁS has developed a number of training and assessment programmes, such as beef abattoir worker, pig meat abattoir worker and pig/meat deboner courses.
FÁS has also developed a new Bord Bia recognised Irish standard for animal welfare in meat processing.
The Department of Education and Science is providing grant aid this year of €112,000 to the craft-butchering sector through the Skillnets programme.
Minister Coughlan claimed that the incidence of skills shortages in Ireland is very low, and is confined to specialists such as electrical engineers with an expertise in high voltage grids, senior software developers, telesales with Nordic languages, and specific skill mixes, such as ICT and business.
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