Skip to main content

Employability & Skills

Language graduates have the edge when it comes to employability

It is naïve to think that everyone speaks English. Only 6% of the world’s population are native English speakers – 75% do not speak any English at all. The fast growing large economies of China, India, Brazil and Russia are not English speaking. In a global job market, having a language as part of your degree gives you a competitive edge over other graduates.

A range of reports commissioned over the past 10 years repeatedly show that languages graduates are more employable than many of their counterparts taking science or management degrees, and that they have enhanced earning potential in the medium to long term.

The unemployment rate among Queen’s University Belfast languages graduates in 2010 was 0% 




So which languages are in demand?

According to a 2011 Confederation of British Industry (CBI) report:

European languages are particularly in demand – a significant number of businesses surveyed were looking for French (61% in 2011)

Businesses looking to expand to new markets were particularly interested in Spanish (40%) for entry into Europe’s fifth largest economy as well as South America.

The report noted that demand for Portuguese is set to grow as businesses turn to the Brazilian market.

Demand for Mandarin is growing, and German is important for businesses as it represents one of the three major export markets for UK companies (the others are France and the US). Both German and Mandarin will be available as part of our International Business with a Modern Language degree from 2014.

(Source: CBI, Ready to Grow: Business Priorities for Education and Skills, 2010)

And in an Irish context, recent legislation in Ireland has embedded Irish in the public realm and opened up a wide range of employment opportunities for Irish graduates here, and the adoption of Irish as one of the official languages of the EU has created exciting opportunities in Brussels.

What can you do with a languages degree?

Our graduates go into a variety of different careers: some work in sectors where they use their languages on a daily basis (such as teaching, translating and interpreting); others choose to work abroad, and a number have pursued careers in the diplomatic service or in the EU institutions in Brussels; and many others have pursued professional paths in sectors like business, publishing, marketing and public relations where languages are not the primary focus of what they do but where they use the transferable skills that our degrees equip them with.

Some of our recent graduates have gone into the following sectors:


Public Relations

Education / Teaching

Translation / Interpreting         

Export Marketing


Community Development

Fast Stream Civil Service         

Diplomatic Service           

Click here to read about some of our graduates.