Uncertainty in tech sector reflected in declining numbers coming to work in Ireland

Healthcare sector now accounting comfortably for the largest number of new work permits granted

The number of people granted permits to work in Ireland’s tech sector continued to decline during the first two months of the year, according to Department of Enterprise and Employment statistics.

A total 4,717 permits were granted during January and February, with more than a third going to those involved in health and related areas. This is far more than the number granted to the technology sector, which had accounted for more work visas than other sectors over the course of 2022 as a whole.

For most of last year, about 1,000 work permits a month were being granted to workers coming to Ireland to work in what the department classifies as Information and Communication Activities. A total of 10,832 permits were granted to workers in that sector over the course of 2022.

The figure is over and above those arriving from countries whose citizens do not require permits to work in the State. However, from a peak of more than 1,200, the monthly figure of permits granted decreased towards the end of the year and, at a time of increasing uncertainty in the sector, fell to 427 in December. That downward trend has been maintained into 2023 with just 427 such permits granted to workers in the sector in January and 358 in February.


By contrast, the overall numbers across all sectors have remained constant with 4,717 work permits granted up to the end of February, down 100 on the same period last year. The 12 month total overall for 2022 was 39,955, more than double the number for 2019 when the services sector dominated.

Workers classified as engaged in Health and Social Work Activities account for the largest single share in the latest figures with 1,702, leaving tech a distant second now after which hospitality and financial services each account for fewer than 400. Though the classifications have changed since 2019, the latest Health and Social Work Activities figure is more than three times the number of permits granted to those classified as Medical and Nursing in the first two months of 2019.

A handful of non-healthcare employers including Enermech, a Scotland-owned engineering and manufacturing solutions firm that opened a facility in Athlone last year, Google and Mastercard are reported to have sought significant numbers of visas in January and February for workers hoping to come into the country.

However, hospitals and other care providers dominate the upper reaches of the list with almost every major hospital in the State featuring and Beaumont and St Vincent’s hospitals, along with Nua Healthcare Services among those seeking the largest numbers.

Those coming from India continue to comfortably account for the largest number of the permits granted with 1,991 of the 4,717 issued in January and February, well over a third of the total. Almost 100 countries feature with Brazil (368), the Philippines (364) and South Africa (213) producing the next biggest numbers.

Almost half of those in receipt of permits this year were intending to work in Dublin with 2,289 listed as being located in the county followed by 417 for Cork.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times