More than 2,000 doctors, nurses and other medical staff have been recruited from overseas in 2016 as the exodus of young Irish health professionals continues.
New figures show that so far this year 2,058 work permits have been granted to non-European Union residents.
The health sector remains the key area for recruitment, with the Health Service Executive (HSE) having to cope with an ongoing shortage of nurses and doctors, raising concerns that this could be a record year for the allocation of work permits in hospitals.
Latest data shows that the Health Service Executive is the biggest recruiter of non-EU workers in Ireland, followed by American internet giant, Google.
The health authority topped the list in the first six months of the year, securing 1,027 work permits for in-demand staff. That was almost four times the number of applications made by Google, which requested 268 permits.
The inflow into the Irish health service comes as a significant proportion of young Irish nurses take advantage of a variety of career options in the UK, and further afield – in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Latest figures reveal that a total of 8,007 applications were granted by the end of October.
Only 17.5pc of those visas were renewals; the rest were new applications.
Overall, the number of permits issued in 2016 is set to be up by a staggering 35pc compared with previous trends.
India is the largest source of foreign workers, followed by Pakistan and the US.
Professionals from Brazil and Sudan completed the top five nationalities that were issued permits.
In a statement, the Department of Jobs said Ireland was experiencing skills shortages in certain “key areas” of the health service.