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The Occupations Lists and the Standard Occupational Classification System

Clarification on the classification of employments for the purposes of Employment Permits.

The Standard Occupational Classification System (SOC)

  • The Critical Skills Occupations List and the Ineligible Occupations List are guided by the Standard Occupational Classification system (SOC 2010), a system devised to classify roles into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data. SOC2010 is structured in nine major groups and 25 sub-major groups followed by minor groups and unit groups.  Within the structure of the classification, occupations fall broadly into four skill levels with the occupations lists operating at Levels 3 and 4 of SOC-2010 in order to furnish sufficient detail to prospective applicants for employment permits. The first level relates to occupations requiring only a general education, usually the completion of secondary level education. These occupations are coded in the ninth major group.
  • The second skill level covers a large group of occupations, that require a general education as for occupations at the first skill level, but which normally have a longer period of work-related training or work experience. These occupations mainly fall into the fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth groups.
  • The third skill level applies to occupations that normally require a body of knowledge associated with a period of post-secondary education eg. diploma, ordinary level degrees. A variety of technical occupations fall into this category, as do trades occupations. These occupations fall into the third and fifth groups, but also include occupations prefixed 12--.
  • The fourth level applies to what are termed ‘professional’ occupations and high level management positions in corporate enterprises. Occupations at this level normally require a degree and/or substantial work experience. These occupations fall into the first and second major groups.

The Occupations Lists

The employment permits system is managed through the operation of the Critical Skills Occupations List and the Ineligible Occupations List which determine employments that are either in high demand or are ineligible for consideration for an employment permit. 

  • Occupations included on the Critical Skills Occupations List are highly skilled occupations which are experiencing labour or skill shortages in respect of qualifications, experience or skills and which are required for the proper functioning of the Irish economy.
  • Every other job in the labour market, where an employer cannot find a worker, may be eligible for an employment permit.  The employer must do a Labour Market Needs Test to see if there is anyone in the State/EEA who could fill the vacancy. If no-one suitable applies for the job, the employer is free to apply for an employment permit.
  • Occupations included on the Ineligible Occupations List are occupations in respect of which there is evidence that there are more than enough Irish/EEA workers available to fill such vacancies, and therefore an employment permit shall not be granted in Ireland.

When considering an application for an employment permit the Department evaluates the occupation based on its own criteria in determining the relevant SOC code to be applied.  Information such as the remuneration level, job title, skills requirements, qualifications and experience of the non-EEA national and a description of the role to be undertaken, and so on, should be provided with an application. When describing the role and tasks, the majority of tasks to be undertaken by the job holder must fall under the selected SOC code. In finalising its decision, the Department may also seek from the applicant additional information in relation to the employment.

Useful tools and websites

The following webpages include useful tools and reference points which we use for clarification of relevant SOC codes:

SOC2010 volume 1: structure and descriptions of unit groups - ONS 

Cascot: Computer Assisted Structured Coding Tool

Economic Migration Policy Unit

2021