Minister Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, has announced changes to the employment permits system for workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) following a comprehensive review.

As part of the changes, all chef grades are now eligible for an employment permit and the occupation will no longer be subject to quotas. There was previously a cap of just 610 permits.

In addition, the current cap of two chef permits per establishment is no longer applicable.

The changes, effective as of 1st January 2020, address mmediate labour shortages in key sectors including hospitality.

Since March 2018 all chef grades with experience have been eligible for an employment permit with the exception of commis chefs. The Minister has removed the occupation of Commis Chef (with two years’ experience) from the Ineligible Occupations List, meaning that all chef grades are now eligible.

Fáilte Ireland said these measures will significantly help to alleviate the skills shortage currently being experienced in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Sector Development, Jenny De Saulles, said: “There is of course no silver bullet to address this skills gap. That’s why Fáilte Ireland is working with stakeholders in both the tourism and education sectors on a range of initiatives to drive long-term employment in the industry.”

Hospitality directly employs 152,000 people in Ireland, and that figure is projected to increase in 310,000 by 2025. In terms of overall economic activity, accommodation and food services activities account for around €3bn of total gross value added in the economy.

Minister Humphreys said: “Chefs account for the highest number of vacancies in the hospitality sector and the shortage of commis chefs is feeding into shortages at higher and specialist levels. This announcement will ensure that the capacity gap is filled in the short-term through the employment permit system.”

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