As China closes in on replacing the United States as the world’s largest economy and developing countries take over as the drivers of global growth, Irish companies are going to have to get used to a world less dominated by the English language.
Much of our future export growth is expected to come from faster-growing non-English speaking countries, like China, Brazil, Russia and Latin America, where the level of language skills is often lower than in traditional EU markets.
Better language skills could help Irish exporters to avoid “unquantifiable missed opportunities,” Ireland’s largest business group IBEC has said. And services exports, which require significantly more language skills than goods exports, are growing as a proportion of Irish exports. Click here to download full IBEC report (pdf).
The good news is that hundreds of thousands of migrants who have made Ireland home in recent decades have brought rich language skills.
Over 500,000 people in Ireland speak a language other than English at home, according to the latest census. Over 30,000 people in Ireland speak Spanish at home and over 20,000 speak Portuguese, according to census data. Over 17,000 speak Chinese while 16,000 speak Arabic.