Employment 1,000 home care workers are being made available to address the nationwide recruitment crisis in the sector.
Minister of State for Mental Health and the Elderly, Mary Butler, and Minister of State for Affairs, Employment and Retail, Damien English, made the announcement at the launch of the report from the Strategic Personnel Advisory Group on Home Care and Nursing Home Care Assistants.
The cross-departmental Strategic Workforce Advisory Group was established in March 2022 by Secretary Butler to examine strategic workforce challenges in public and private primary care roles in home care and long-term residential care for the elderly.
The Group’s report provides a comprehensive overview of the complex and interrelated challenges affecting the recruitment and retention of healthcare workers. It makes 16 comprehensive recommendations to address these urgently, in the areas of recruitment, remuneration and conditions, barriers to employment, and training and professional development, as well as sectoral reforms. The recommendations aim to:
Raising awareness of the training and employment opportunities available to healthcare workers; ensure greater equity in pay and benefits for healthcare providers in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors;
Facilitating collective bargaining; remove barriers to part-time work for the unemployed; enabling the employment of healthcare workers from outside the EU/EEA in Ireland for roles in the sector; and build the HSE’s capacity for timely, local recruitment.
With one of the fastest aging populations in the EU, Ireland faces an increasing challenge in addressing the shortage of healthcare workers, a significant proportion of whom are elderly people themselves.
Minister Butler said: “All caregivers working in home care and long-term residential care for the elderly should be given fair wages, fair conditions and the opportunity to progress in their careers. We need to show home support workers and caregivers that we appreciate the important work they do and make it a viable career option.
“I join the Advisory Group’s call for all private sector and voluntary service providers to commit to paying at least the national living wage (currently €12.90) for home care workers and care assistants, and for home care workers to be compensated for any time they travel between people’s homes and for other reasonable travel expenses.
“We urgently need to do something about the shortage of healthcare workers in Ireland. Combined with wider sector reforms currently underway, the implementation of the Group’s recommendations will have a real and lasting impact in addressing these workforce challenges.”
Minister English welcomed the recommendations to address barriers to the recruitment of healthcare workers, as highlighted in the report.
These include commitments to: conduct a national campaign to raise the profile of training and employment opportunities for healthcare workers; conducting a review of public employment services to increase the number of job seekers becoming healthcare workers; build the capacity of the HSE for timely and locally targeted recruitment; improve recruitment activities at European level; and conducting a review of eligibility criteria for government benefits to ensure that participation in part-time employment does not create disincentives. It also aims to remove home care workers from the list of unsuitable occupations to allow employment in Ireland for up to 1,000 non-EU/EEA citizens in this area.
“We need to show home and health care assistants that we appreciate the important work they do and make it a viable career option,” said Mary Butler, Secretary of Mental Health and the Elderly. Photo: Moya Nolan
“The current shortage of healthcare personnel is an important problem that needs to be addressed urgently,” said Minister English. “We must therefore simultaneously address the challenges that hinder national-level recruitment and facilitate shorter-term international recruitment.
“I hope that the implementation of the Advisory Group’s recommendations will significantly improve the pay and conditions of care workers in Ireland and make them a more attractive and sustainable career. Accordingly, I am announcing that 1,000 General Work Permits will be available to Home Care Workers beginning January 2023.
“As recommended by the Advisory Group, these permits are for full-time positions with a minimum salary of €27,000 per annum and a stipulated minimum continuous duty of four hours per working day. This will ensure quality employment for healthcare providers coming to Ireland, while alleviating our national recruitment crisis at the same time.”
According to Colm Hilliard, director of Workpermits.ie, the government’s decision to expand its work permit system for workers from countries outside the EEA is helping to address Ireland’s skills and labor shortages in a number of sectors, including healthcare. to take.
Established in 2018, Work Permits is a privately owned immigration company that works for clients from around the world who wish to apply for an Irish work permit.
“We have seen a significant increase across all sectors, with a rapid increase in applications over the past year due to shortages in the area,” said Colm, highlighting the impact of Brexit as positive for Ireland in terms of attracting skilled workers.
“Brexit has a huge impact given that we are the last country in the EU to speak English as a first language and we are a growing country. Ireland has become ‘the new UK’ in terms of the level of appeal to work here The job market is huge here in Ireland.”
Significant recruitment is taking place outside Europe.
Colm Hilliard, director of Work permits.nl.
“Companies have been advertising new job opportunities in Europe and haven’t received appropriate responses, so they need to expand their search. Ninety-nine percent of the time, companies come back to us saying they can’t find anyone in Europe after advertising. If you can’t find people in Europe, you need to expand your search and there are very highly skilled workers who are eager to come to Ireland to work and live,” Colm added.
Despite the demand for workers from outside the EEA, the process of accessing a work permit can be complex, and this is where workpermits.ie helps potential employers and employees navigate the system.
“This process takes 16 weeks with us acting as the common denominator to get that work permit. We deal with the company when applying for the permit and we liaise directly with the employee to verify their documents and answer any questions. We often deal with people who travel around the world and arrive in a country they may know little or nothing about, and we’re here to help,” Colm added.
“After the quota of 1,000 general employment permits for the role of caregivers and home caregivers was introduced in December 2022, we have since experienced a steady increase in applications,” he said.
An application for a General Work Permit can only be submitted if a valid survey of the needs of the labor market has been carried out. To meet a valid LMNT, an employer must advertise the vacancy for at least 28 consecutive days with the Department of Social Protection Employment Services/EURES job placement network, without edits or changes.
In addition, an advertisement in a national newspaper and a recognized platform such as a recruitment platform is also necessary. Healthcare workers are eligible for a critical skills license, which can be issued for up to four years, with a minimum salary of €32,000 per year. This type of permit allows a spouse/children to join the employee immediately.