News & Events

Minister Richmond announces measures to further address ongoing skills shortages in NCT service

Neale Richmond, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, has today extended the quota of General Employment Permits for Vehicle Road Worthiness Testers (NCT Testers) by another 100 permits. A further 100 workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) can now be recruited to help reduce waiting times for NCT appointments. 

Minister Richmond said:

“I am delighted to allocate 100 additional General Employment Permits for NCT Testers. More Testers working in our NCT Centres is the best way to reduce the current backlog of appointments and help ensure that drivers can access appointments in their local NCT Centre when they are required. 

“As we have reached full employment, with over 2.6 million people at work in Ireland, there are some skillsets that are increasingly difficult for businesses to access, and these Testers are a prime example. Where these skills are lacking both here in Ireland and throughout Europe, the Employment Permits system allows us to source these workers from the rest of the world.

“Cases like this show how responsive the Employment Permits system is and how it can benefit both businesses, workers and the people of Ireland.

“In order to ensure that the Employment Permit systems is working effectively for Irish businesses, a full public consultation of the eligibility for employment permits is underway this Summer. I would encourage all companies that use the employment permits system to contribute to this review and share their experience.

“While the Employment Permits system can help compensate for skills that cannot be found in Ireland and the EEA, government are also addressing these skill shortages through apprenticeships and educational training for workers.”

The quota increase, which will come into effect from today follows constructive engagement between the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of Transport in recent months, and a review of the workforce challenges affecting the National Car Testing service.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport with special responsibility for road safety Jack Chambers said:

“I am pleased to welcome the increase in general employment permits for vehicle roadworthiness inspectors. The National Car Testing Service (NCTS) has been under significant pressure, with long-term staffing shortages across the EU making it difficult to meet the high demand for tests.

“We have seen waiting times decreasing this year, as testers from outside the EEA have joined the team to provide additional capacity in test centres. Recruitment for vehicle inspectors is ongoing in Ireland, but these additional resources will assist in continuing to reduce waiting times for car test appointments for NCTS customers.

“In the interim, the NCTS has a priority waitlist in place. Vehicle owners urgently seeking test appointments may contact the NCTS directly by calling 01 4135992 or via the NCT website"

This measure will help alleviate the pressures being faced by the NCT service provider, who has struggled to source workers in the domestic and European labour market. Evidence provided by consultation with the Department of Transport and the NCT operator points to significant ongoing recruitment challenges. The extension of this quota will be a particularly welcome boost to the efforts to reduce the well-documented backlog in the NCT system.

Notes for Editor


The Employment Permits System

The Irish State’s general policy is to promote the sourcing of labour and skills needs from within the workforce of Ireland, the European Union and other EEA states. Policy in relation to applications for employment permits remains focused on facilitating the recruitment from outside the EEA of highly skilled personnel, where the requisite skills cannot be met by normal recruitment or by training. Employment permit policy is part of the response to addressing skills deficits which exist and are likely to continue into the medium term, but it is not intended over the longer term to act as a substitute for meeting the challenge of up-skilling the State’s resident workforce, with an emphasis on the process of lifelong learning, and on maximising the potential of EEA nationals to fill our skills deficits.

The Occupations Lists

The Employment Permits system is designed to attract highly skilled workers from outside the EEA to Ireland, to meet skills demand in the economy where those skills can’t be accessed through the resident labour force. For the purposes of the employment permits system, occupations fall into three categories:

  • Occupations listed on the Critical Skills Occupations List are highly skilled professional roles that are in high demand and are not always available in the resident labour force. Occupations on this list are eligible for a Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP) and include roles such as medicine, ICT, sciences, finance and business. Special “fast-track” conditions attach to this permit type including the eligibility to apply to the Department of Justice for family members to accompany the permit holder immediately; and after two years may apply to the Department of Justice for permission to work without the requirement for an employment permit. 
  • Ineligible occupations are those with evidence suggesting there are sufficient Irish/EEA workers to fill such vacancies. Employment permits are not granted for these occupations.
  • Every other job in the labour market, where an employer cannot find a worker, is eligible for an employment permit. For these occupations, the employer is required to undertake a Labour Market Needs Test and if no-one suitable applies for the job, the employer is free to apply for an employment permit. Occupations such as these may be skills of a more general nature and are eligible for a General Employment Permit (GEP). This permit type is renewable and after five years the applicant may apply to the Department of Justice for long term residency permission.  

The Critical Skills and Ineligible Occupations Lists Review

It is vital that the employment permits scheme is responsive to changes in economic circumstances and labour market conditions. Therefore, it is necessary to review the Critical Skills and Ineligible Occupations Lists periodically, in accordance with the changing needs of the labour market. 

The review process utilises research undertaken by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) and other experts in the labour market, including the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) at SOLAS. The department also invites submissions from industry representatives, other government departments and any other stakeholders who might have a case to make, via a periodic open consultation on the department’s website. Since the Review of Economic Migration Policy which took place in 2018, the Minister has taken advice on economic migration from the Inter-Departmental Group which has managed the review process.

An occupation may be considered for inclusion on the critical skills occupation list or removal from the ineligible lists provided that:

  • shortage exists across the occupation, despite attempts by industry to train and there are no suitable Irish/EEA nationals available to undertake the work
  • development opportunities for Irish/EEA nationals are not undermined
  • genuine skills shortage exists and that it is not a recruitment or retention problem
  • the government education, training, employment and economic development policies are supported

Submission process

As part of this review process, submissions are sought from representative bodies, government departments, agencies, and other interested parties relating to occupations currently included on or absent from the lists.

The submission process is an opportunity for stakeholders to provide additional information and potentially different perspectives on the nature and extent of skill shortages. Stakeholder submissions are a vital source of information, helping inform the department’s final assessment of the status of occupations.