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Dublin Opinion >>
The new market trend: proficiency in multiple languages
Thursday May 17, 2012 11:54 by Diarmuid Haughian
The Irish educational system is currently failing to provide equal chance, equal access and share to graduate employment opportunities with global employers in Ireland. There seems to be a cultural over-reliance on the English language in Irish society, a lack of awareness importance of being multi-lingual at an early age and language learning time in the classroom is spent on compulsory Irish.
IN the current jobs market being proficient in multiple languages is now more important than ever before. Unfortunately many Irish students are found to be lacking in this area. Ireland came second last In a recent study of 25 European carried out by Euro student with only five per cent of third level students surveyed in Ireland claiming to be competent in at least two foreign languages - the average was 20 per cent. Career Guidance practitioner Diarmuid Haughian looks at the importance of languages in boosting your career.
The Irish educational system is currently failing to provide equal chance, equal access and share to graduate employment opportunities with global employers in Ireland. There seems to be a cultural over-reliance on the English language in Irish society, a lack of awareness importance of being multi-lingual at an early age and language learning time in the classroom is spent on compulsory Irish. A report published last year by Ireland’s Expert Group on Future Skills Needs stated that ‘jobseekers with third level qualifications coupled with work experience and foreign language skills were more likely to be in demand by employers’. Unfortunately our educational system is not producing multi-lingual graduates.
When considering what language to study, you must evaluate the economic importance of that language and which can apply the best advantage, find your niche and analyse each country’s economy. For example take German; it is the most widely spoken first language in the European Union and accounts for 4% of internet use.
In a European business skills survey by ELAN, it was revealed that amongst employers specifically looking for employees with language skills, French and German remain the most sought after languages. Perhaps this is why 49% of Irish students sat French in the Leaving Cert in 2011 yet France is not an emerging market.
According to recent studies, 38% of British firms are interested in people who can speak Cantonese or Mandarin, in order to build business links with China. These are the facts that you must reflect upon when choosing a language.
The BRIC (Brazil, Russia, China and India) economies are thriving at the moment, however how will they be faring upon graduation? Ultimately, fluency in any global language is a positive toward your human capital and unfortunately I don’t believe our young students realise the importance of being multi-lingual.
The depth of language study can vary depending on the course duration and NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications) level – the higher the NFQ level relates to the level of exposure and study depth, for example cultural employment exchanges, academic placements, cultural studies, etc. Private language schools may focus learning time on speaking and writing the language and is usually a phased learning curve, allowing the student to bridge from Level Basic on up to Intermediate and Advanced. There is also the option of learning from home using computer based applications which are very popular if you are leading a busy schedule. Again, research and reflection is required when making a decision.
It is equally important to realise what jobs can be attained with certain languages. A large proportion of multi lingual opportunities are in any multinational company in Ireland more so within, software, IT and Internet companies, call centres, sales and administration positions, the export sector and teaching abroad. What job roles will each language open?
Ultimately, it’s about competitive advantage, if you have a background in Law and you can speak French, you have a greater prospect of landing a job with a Law firm that has a number of clients who have business relations in any French speaking country. The world is a globalised commercial society and our educational system must produce the multi-lingual graduates that will allow us to export and trade our way out of our current problems.
[edited by moderator to remove commercial links]