Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, today welcomed the Government’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education as an important initial step in addressing a skills deficit which is undermining Irish companies’ ability to diversify into new markets.
Ibec Head of Education and Social Policy Tony Donohoe stated: “Irish companies will only gain a competitive edge and successfully enter new markets with the help of other languages. Better language skills are needed wherever companies interact with service providers and suppliers, as well as in sales and marketing. Language skills also affect our ability to attract foreign direct investment. They are frequently required in contact centres, services centres and customer service/technical support functions within the ICT sector.
Unfortunately many SMEs, in particular, tend to not even consider markets where they perceive language and cultural differences are an entry barrier. Exporting to the UK represents the height of their ambitions. When 75 per cent of the world’s population do not speak English, and only 9 per cent speak English as their first language, this is a missed opportunity. The threat posed by Brexit also makes the development of a multi-lingual workforce even more critical.”