My Speech on the Need For Chefs to be added to the Critical Skills Employment List

The need for Chefs to be added to the Critical Skills employment permit list

 The issue of the shortage of skilled labour in the hospitality sector – Chefs in particular, has been deemed critical by the Hospitality Industry.

 The RAI estimates that over 5,000 Chefs are required by 2018 to fill vacancies and the shortage of skilled labour in the hospitality sector in general  

 While new apprenticeships have made some impact in alleviating the current situation – it is my understanding it is not sufficient to meet the current demand in the short to medium term. In fact, it is estimated that even with all the new apprentice and mentoring initiatives coming on stream now -it will be 3 to 4 years before they will have any impact at all on the current shortage.

As such, it follows that the only short to medium term solution to this crisis is for the hospitality sector to partner with Chef training colleges World Wide to attract qualified chefs to Ireland. The main obstacle to this however, is the issue of obtaining work permits for student chefs and or qualified chefs. At it stands, Chefs are not on the list of occupations eligible for a permit on the Department of Jobs , Enterprise and Innovation list – with the exception of Executive Chefs, Head Chefs, Sous chefs or Specialist Chefs earning in excess of €30,000 per annum . This rules out any hope of the restaurant owners taking in student chefs from abroad.

Occupations such as Senior health services and public health Managers and Directors are on the Departments Critical Skills employment permit list, yet it is my understanding that the HSE has a glut of these professionals already employed.

Other professions given special status at the moment include;   Accountants and Tax consultants. Environment Health Professionals , Quality assurance and regulatory professionals, Sales , Marketing and Related Associate Professionals , Web design and development professionals, etc. Moreover -the Department also has a list of those professions eligible for Internship Employment Permits. This list mirrors the Critical Skills employment list and chefs are not covered on this either. It is interesting to note that the Department last updated their work permit eligibility list on the 3rd April 2017 at a time when the critical shortage of Chefs was already well documented and publicised. I am aware that the RAI has met with Department officials on this issue about four times in the past 18months . In the past four years, they have submitted submissions on the issue, one every 6 months.

It is my understanding that the Department have told the RAI that they are not keen to even offer a two year temporary visa for chefs at the moment- I would like to know if the Minister will reconsider this position.

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