The Government has not done enough to make sure Ireland has the skilled workers it urgently needs in the event of a hard Brexit scenario, according to one of the Government's own chief jobs advisers.
Tony Donohoe, who is the chairman of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, said that Ireland will need significantly more customs officials, VAT experts, supply chain managers, logistics specialists and people working in the transport sector, especially road hauliers.
He said that the Expert Group's advice to the Government, as they outlined in a report last month, was to prepare for a worst-case scenario in which the UK exits the European Union next March without any departure deal.
Mr Donohoe described this as preparing on "a 'no regrets' basis". He said anything less would leave Ireland exposed to a critical shortage of key skilled staff, and would potentially derail Irish trade and the supply of goods.
In the Netherlands, the government there signalled back in February that it planned to hire an additional 750 customs officials just to handle issues that will arise after Brexit.
Mr Donohoe said other continental states such as Belgium and Sweden had also advanced plans, with the market for certain experts becoming globally competitive, he said.
"We need to act on this immediately," he said.
He said the Irish Government has not done enough to tackle a skills gap post-Brexit.
"I think they should be doing more. We've tended to focus on the politics of the situation; on the trade negotiations, on issues of regulation. I think skills has not been afforded the priority it should," Mr Donohoe told RTÉ News.
He said that the development of the required skills base in the labour force, in time to deal with the Brexit fallout, "should be connected in to these other initiatives" rather than seen as something separate.
He said there needed to be an urgency in training and apprenticeships, although he said that some good work had been done in terms of HGV driver apprenticeships, which are under development.
If Ireland fails to have the necessary roles filled in time for a hard Brexit, then Mr Donohoe said there would be a significant concern that trade would grind to a standstill.
Minister for State with responsiblity for Skills and Innovation, John Halligan, told RTÉ that the Government did have a comprehensive jobs plan in place and was working closely with the national skills council, and regional skills Fora, as well the training agency Solas.
He said there were certain jobs where it was less attractive for new entrants, but the Government had provided funding for training and development of skills needed to cater for future economic and trade demands.