The Government is making changes to the work permit system to make allowances for an extra 300 workers to come to Ireland to fill positions in the area of customs duties and controls ahead of a possible Brexit. 

The changes also see extra permits allowed in other areas that have labour shortages, including the construction and high-performance sports sectors.

Twice a year the Employments Permit System undergoes an evidence-based review by the Government to establish what skills are needed from outside the European Economic Area. 

It is based on labour market conditions and submissions from sectors and other stakeholders, together with contextual factors, such as in this case, Brexit. 

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys today announced significant changes following the latest review to address labour shortages in key sectors. 

Construction professionals including civil engineers, quantity surveyors and construction project managers, as well as high performance directors and coaches for high level sports organisations will now qualify for Critical Skills Employment Permits. 

General Employment Permits will also be on offer to welders, pipefitters, glaziers, scaffolders and crane drivers, as well as up to 250 plasterers and bricklayers. 

Minister Humphreys is also making allowances for an extra 300 freight forwarders, cargo and freight agents and brokerage clerks to come here to fill positions in the area of customs duties and controls, where it is thought demand could rise sharply if Brexit takes place.

The move was welcomed by the Construction Industry Federation.

"The construction sector has been growing since 2013 at a rate of 1000 people a month," said CIF Director, Tom Parlon.

"We are experiencing skills shortages in particular areas that are essential to the delivery of housing and infrastructure."

"The CIF has engaged with SOLAS and Education Training Boards to upskill those on the live register and bring them back into the industry."

"We have also attempted to attract members of the Diaspora back to work here and finally, we are working with schools to encourage more young people into the industry in the medium term."

"The measures announced today will allow us to meet the pent-up demand for construction activity across Ireland."

Engineers Ireland also greeted the news positively.

"Today’s announcement by Minister Humphreys is a very welcome step as we look to increase the supply of Civil Engineers and Mechanical and Electrical Engineers with BIM capabilities to meet Ireland’s current and future needs, including realising and competitively delivering on the ambitions outlined in Project Ireland 2040", said Director General Caroline Spillane.