25% fall in visas for foreigners to work here last year

The number of work permit visas issued to foreign nationals fell by over 25% in 2012 and is expected to fall again this year.

According to visa specialists Visafirst.com, 4,005 work permits were issued to companies in Ireland last year — down from 5,200 in 2011. Just 3,276 visas have been issued so far this year.

However, the migration specialists pointed out that despite the falling numbers of permits being issued, Dublin is getting a growing percentage of any permits issued. Cork is also seeing an increasing share of the work permits but at a far smaller scale to Dublin.

Migration expert at www.visafirst.com, Edwina Shanahan, cited a number of factors influencing the fall in work permits for non-Irish nationals: “There are a variety of reasons for the fall in permits overall — there are more people trained up in Ireland in certain areas of expertise so they are now able to fill positions that only non-nationals could fill a few years ago; also while things are picking up in the capital, this is unfortunately not the same for the rest of the country so the need for permits is reducing.”

The statistics also highlight that Ireland is still suffering a skills shortage in certain key areas — with the science, engineering and technology industries accounting for over one third of all permits to date this year.

“The figures also reveal that the ICT industry is still leading the board for the numbers of Irish work permit visas issued. This isn’t surprising because the lack of a qualified workforce in certain IT professions has been well-documented and although there have been moves to address this — it will take time,” said Ms Shanahan.

Major companies operating in Ireland which are applying for work permits this year include Facebook (31 down from 91 in 2012); Google (131 down from 147 in 2012); IBM (71 up from 64 in 2012); Infosys Technologies (23 down from 71 in 2012); and Wipro Technologies (47 down from 65 in 2012).

The skills shortage here, at a time of high unemployment, has been highlighted several times in recent years.

The National Skills Bulletin 2013, produced by the Expert Group on Future Skills, pointed to a persistence of skills shortages in the areas of ICT, hi-tech manufacturing, agri-food, sales, marketing, business, finance, and healthcare.

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