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A message from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

“Languages are critically important to Ireland’s trade and potential to trade.”


As the Irish Government’s Trade and Investment Strategy, Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World highlights, the capturing of new opportunities- in export markets as well as the attraction of inward investment- rests partly on building ‘our capabilities in foreign languages and understanding of cultural differences for marketing, building relationships and ways of doing business’. Research undertaken by the European Commission has highlighted how the conscious and targeted adoption of language capability by European SMEs is associated with the overcoming of linguistic and/or cultural barriers to trade, and a significant boost to sales turnover.

Delivering on the actions and aspirations contained in Languages Connect will therefore be key to promoting Ireland’s international trading and investment activity, and with it economic prosperity- particularly as we shift to a new phase in global trade and investment.

The importance of foreign languages

To learn foreign languages is particularly important in light of Brexit, and the greater onus it is likely to place on non-UK market diversification by Irish based enterprises. This has been highlighted by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, in its report Addressing the Skills Needs Arising from the Potential Trade Implications of Brexit (June 2018). This report emphasises the importance of implementing Languages Connect in full, in order to enhance the resilience, agility and responsiveness of enterprises in their international trading activity, through awareness of the benefits of language capability, and access to an adequate pool of language skills.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, in collaboration with the Department of Education and Skills, the wider education and training sector, and employer representatives, will be working throughout the lifetime of Languages Connect to support the enhancement of language skills within the enterprise base.

Examples include:

  • Raising awareness amongst SMEs on the benefits of employing graduates with language skills
  • Encouraging and supporting businesses to invest in the development of linguistic skills in their own organisations (for example, see the 70% salary support language grant offered under Enterprise Ireland’s GradStart programme. Click here to download programme.)
  • Encouraging SMEs to include language skills in their company skills plans, and implement a ‘Language Management Strategy’ i.e. the ‘planned adoption of a range if techniques to facilitate effective communications with clients and suppliers abroad’, appropriate to their markets
  • The 9 Regional Skills Fora, which include representatives from Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, local authorities, business representative organisations, and local education and training providers, will also be working to identify language related skills needs within their regions, to create linkages between regional employers and education and training providers to address these needs, and to promote career opportunities for people with language skills

For more information:

Listen to industry experts including Julie Sinnamon and Marc Coleman – click here.

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs Statement of Activity 2017 – click here.

Gradireland Languages Careers Booklet – click here.

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Did you

Only 6.5%
of the world’s population are native English speakers