Minister Humphreys announces changes to Employment Permits Regulations to alleviate pressure on Animation Sector


Animation Ireland received some promising news on March 15th from the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD. Minister Humphreys has signed off on changes to Employment Permit Regulations which will make it easier for businesses in the Hospitality and Animation sectors to source workers from outside the EEA.  This list is the result of an application made by Animation Ireland to Minister Humphreys in October 2017 which requested that key Animation roles were to be included on the ‘highly critical skills’ list.

Announcing the changes, Minister Humphreys said:

Following a review of the Highly Skilled and Ineligible lists of Employment earlier this year, which included a public consultation, I am today announcing the removal of certain chef grades from the ineligible occupation list. This means that if an employer is unsuccessful in filling a vacancy either domestically or from across the European Economic Area (EEA) it can be filled by a suitably qualified non- EEA national….

In addition, Minister Humphreys has also agreed to add a number of employments in animation to the highly skilled list.

The Minister stated “Irish animation industry has emerged as a central component of Ireland’s digital and creative economy. However, the lack of available experienced highly skilled animation professionals limits the sector’s continued growth and expansion. To this end I have added highly skilled and design oriented employments in animation to the highly skilled list. By setting the periods of experience I am ensuring the entry route to the profession by Irish/EEA graduates is maintained.

“It is also imperative that the employment permits system remains correctly oriented to meet the State’s emerging labour market needs, be they labour or skills shortages. Consequently, my Department is undertaking a review of our economic migration policy. I have established an Inter Departmental Group to steer the review and have requested that it report to me by the end of June 2018.”


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 employment permits system is managed in part through the operation of the highly skilled and ineligible lists for the purpose of grant of employment permits.

  • Highly skilled jobs are professional positions in medicine, ICT, sciences, finance and business. Special “fast-track” rules apply e.g. family can join the permit holder immediately, permanent residency in available after two years.
  • Ineligible jobs are generally lower skilled occupations eg home care and hospitality. There is evidence that there are more than enough Irish/EEA workers to fill such vacancies.
  • Every other job in the labour market, where an employer cannot find a worker, may be eligible for an employment permit. The employer has to do a Labour Market Needs Test (i.e. advertise the job for two weeks). If no-one suitable applies for the job, the employer is free to apply for an employment permit.

The number of General Employment Permits is limited to 2 per establishment. An overall quota of General Employment Permits is set at 610.

  • Addition of the following employments in animation to the highly skilled list
    • Art Director in 2D or 3D animation, with at least one year’s experience in the role
    • Location Designer in 2D or 3D animation, with at least one year’s experience in the role
    • Character Designer in 2D or 3D animation, with at least one year’s experience in the role
    • Prop Designer in 2D or 3D animation, with at least one year’s experience in the role
    • Animation Layout Artist in 2D or 3D animation, with at least one year’s experience in the role
    • Animation Background and Design Artist in 2D or 3D animation, with at least one year’s experience in the role

Review of rationale for employment permit system

The focus of the employment permits regime in recent years has been to ensure that the skills requirements of enterprise in the State can be met through immigration where necessary; as we approach full employment, labour as well as skills needs are beginning to manifest. In this context, the Minister has asked officials to undertake a review of the employment permits system to ensure it remains correctly oriented to meet the State’s needs.

In undertaking any adjustment in the orientation of the system, however, the interest of the 234,900 people on the Live Register in Ireland and the 18 million unemployed in the EU 28 must be remembered, and a balance must be maintained which does not further disadvantage these job seekers. In addition, the development of particular skills in the resident labour force can depend upon a judicious deployment of economic migration as a supplementary rather than a primary source of those skills, and adjustments must be made with this in mind.

The Minister has established an Inter-Departmental Group made up of relevant State Departments, (including Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform; Justice and Equality; Housing Planning and Local Government; Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Transport, Tourism and Sport; Health; Education and Skills; Employment Affairs and Social Protection), with the principle objective of considering the policy rationale for the employment permit system where the economy is improving and the labour market is tightening. The review process will include a public consultation. The review group will submit a report to the Minister before the end of June 2018.

For further information on the employment permits system go to:

Source: Department News; Department of Enterprise Business and Innovation.