The announcement follows extensive engagement between the CTTC executive and senior stakeholders to include a written submission to Government
The Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland has today welcomed the establishment of a quota of 1,500 employment permits for bus and coach drivers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to address the serious skills shortage in the industry.
The announcement was made recently by Damien English T.D., Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail. This follows intensive engagement between the CTTC and senior stakeholders as well as a written submission to Government. The submission outlined the ongoing difficulties faced by operators across Ireland owing to the challenges in securing suitably qualified drivers. The CTTC had noted that in the absence of appropriate action, the situation risked having a negative impact on service provision. Collectively, the private bus and coach sector transports over 75 million passengers per year, and operates the majority of school transport routes.
The adjustment is expected to alleviate driver shortages and safeguard service provision in the short-term.
Speaking to the announcement, Minister for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English said “I am delighted to announce further changes to the employment permit system that will help ease the recruitment challenges being experienced in the agriculture, transport and home care sectors.”
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said: “I am delighted that changes to these employment permits have now been introduced. Transport providers have experienced significant difficulties in recruiting bus and coach drivers in recent months, which has unfortunately impacted on service delivery across the public transport network. I believe that these changes will help with the recruitment challenges currently being experienced by operators. It will also help ensure that we can continue to extend and develop our public transport programme throughout the country, which is central to our climate ambitions.”
Welcoming the news, Chairman of the CTTC, John Halpenny commented “The announcement of 1,500 permits for non-EEA citizens is a very welcome development. Over the course of the last year, commercial bus operators have faced severe challenges in terms of both recruitment and retention of new and experienced drivers, and at times, this has acted as a direct threat to service provision. This initiative will help to ease some of these pressures and protect continuity of service delivery in the short term.
“I would like to thank the Government and other stakeholders for their engagement on this issue since we first raised it last year. This is a concrete example of a positive outcome arising from Government and industry collaboration, and the CTTC will continue to act as a proactive partner to Government.”