Please give an overview of your sector?
Only 6.5% of the world’s population speaks English as their native language. Language skills will help you connect with those who do not speak English as their first language.
Languages sector is about communicating. Language skills enable us to exchange ideas, buy and sell, discover and function, learn and teach, work together and make connections. Language careers in teaching and education are a crucial component in giving us the tools to communicate. Using languages in any career from translating software to working in sales & marketing requires languages
Ireland is the second most globalised economy in the Western world. Some 85% of the value of Irish exports comes from foreign-owned companies
What is the size and scope of the sector?
Foreign languages sector can be seen as covering two areas :
- Languages as a hard skill : These are careers where foreign languages are a requirement, such as languages teaching, 3rd level applied languages positions, translating, interpreting, and careers in business or foreign affairs where postings can be abroad.
- Languages as a soft skill: These are careers where a foreign language skill is not a requirement but can either help you to get a job or will help you in your job even if you initially did not need it. In our globalised, connected world virtually any career will benefit from language skills. Combining for example business, technology or science backgrounds with language skills will give you a strong skill set in the jobs market. Language skills give you options - the question you have to ask is if you would rather have those options or not.
What are the current issues affecting this sector?
Brexit will force Ireland to seek new partners for example in research, and should make Ireland look harder at the non-English speaking countries as our collaborators.
Once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, Ireland will be one of only two English speaking countries in the Union. This Strategy is crucial to ensuring Ireland is prepared for a changed European dynamic.
Ireland’s top ten trading partners include Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, China, Spain and Japan illustrating the fact that Ireland needs more of its people to speak foreign languages.
Ireland’s 10-year foreign languages strategy ‘Languages Connect: Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education’ addresses many of the shortcomings in our ability to speak foreign languages, aiming to make our skills in languages fit for the changing world.
What changes are anticipated over the next 5 years
Language skills are an extremely good asset to have in a changing world. Language skills will give you options and flexibility.
Foreign-language skills will be key to the success of many Irish businesses in the coming years as non-English speaking countries take a bigger and bigger slice of the global economy and Ireland becomes more diverse.
We don’t know what the new dynamic of world players or the changing consumer patterns will be, which will make it more important for people to be flexible and multi-skilled.
Foreign-language speakers can boost a company’s performance. Language learners tend to be better listeners, better able to juggle competing priorities and are more sensitive to diversity, studies have shown.
New opportunities open up, for example languages opportunities in gaming or big data industry did not even exist a few years ago. New export markets for Irish goods, new technologies with multinationals and new emerging markets with their languages all offer opportunities for those with language skills.
Ireland has been incredibly successful in attracting international firms with multinational firms employing over 200,000 people, including some of the country’s best jobs. Firms like Google, Facebook and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer use dozens of languages to serve markets around the world. The Irish government says it believes language learning will be key to attracting more international firms – and key for graduates seeking the highly-paid jobs they create.
Native-English speakers tend to speak fewer languages, so making the effort to learn another will make you stand out in a crowded jobs market.
Do you have any statistics relevant to the sector?
Student surveys show that graduates from applied languages courses and international business courses find employment both in Ireland and overseas.
Over 40% of Trinity College and University of Limerick applied linguistics graduates went into employment while 50% of TC graduates pursued more studies, and nearly 30% of UL graduates went overseas.
Over 80% of business & languages students went into employment (TC), over 60% of education & languages graduates found jobs in Ireland (UL) and over 60% of University of Cork commerce & languages graduates are working with over 30% pursuing further studies.
The Foreign Languages Strategy aims to:
- Increase the number of post-primary schools offering two or more foreign languages by 25%
- Increase the number of students sitting two languages at Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate by 25%
- Increase the number of students in higher education studying a foreign language, in any capacity, as part of their course, by 20%
- Increase the number of participants in Erasmus+ by 50%
- Double the number of teachers participating in teacher mobility programmes
- Double the number of foreign language assistants in schools
- Improve learners’ attitude to foreign language learning
- Improve the quality of foreign language teaching at all levels
Are there any areas in your sector currently experiencing skills shortages?
There is currently a shortage of foreign language teachers. A career as a teacher is a wonderful career for anyone who is interested in education, young people, and other countries and cultures. It is also possible to combine a foreign language with another subject, for example combining a STEM subject with a language subject would give an aspiring teacher a valuable skill set in education.
Language skills are sought after in localisation and the IT sector. Localisation is the provision of software and documentation for different languages and cultures. There is an increasing demand for technical communicators, especially within the IT sector, to be able to write about technical products in a simple and effective way so that the product users can easily understand the product. Courses in Applied Linguistics & Computing aim to address this skill.