Report says Ireland needs workers from outside of Europe

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According to the latest review of the Irish labour market, Ireland will need to recruit highly skilled workers from outside of Europe to meet skills shortages in the economy.

However, the report by Forfas and the Expert Group on Future Skills needs, says that most of the country's labour shortages in low skill sectors can be filled from the 10 new accession states.

The report backs a two tier immigration scheme - a permanent green card system for highly qualified workers, and a temporary work permit system for low skilled migrants.

After reviewing skills and labour shortages in 125 occupations across Ireland, the report uncovered a number of sectors experiencing skills shortages - including construction, finance, engineering, information technology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and sales.

The report identified that further labour shortages exist in areas like horticulture, finance and credit control.

The report says that most of Ireland's demand for unskilled labour can be met from European countries. However, Europe can't meet our needs at graduate level - so Ireland must look outside the EU to so-called third countries to source highly qualified workers.

Launching the report, Employment Minister Micheal Martin stressed that migration was no substitute for improving training and upskilling of workers already resident in Ireland.

Minister Martin said :' to meet our skills needs in the future we require a modern, sophisticated economic migration system that ensures that the economy has the skills it needs to develop and that those who come to work here enjoy the same rights as Irish workers and are integrated into our community'.

The Minister added that the economic arguments around immigration made in the report are convincing : the conclusion is that migration can contribute positively to the economy, but only when it is managed correctly.

'The up-skilling and training of the resident population must be seen as the primary response to skill shortages. Developing the work force at all levels is crucial to Ireland's sustained economic development', said Anne Heraty, Chairperson of the Expert Group on Future Sills Needs.