NICILT held an information event for post-primary teachers of Modern Languages, Careers and Employability in the Great Hall, Queen's University Belfast.
What do local business people say?
Business managers and experts from across Northern Ireland are reiterating the following key points regarding languages and careers (information correct in March 2016):
To put young people in Northern Ireland on an equal-footing with their European neighbours, they must have skills in languages other than their own mother tongue. These skills are important and can set candidates apart from others at interview.
A GCSE in a language can be enough to make a difference to a company. The possibility of having a simple conversation with a potential client in their language could make the difference when brokering a deal.
Linguists are flexible and can be trained in many fields therefore there will always be jobs for people with language skills.
If a candidate for an interview has lived or spent time abroad this will add value to a job application. The candidate could be more willing to travel and embrace other cultures. Teachers should encourage pupils to gain life experiences through trips and exchange programmes to other countries and communities.
Companies may have to up-skill their employees in languages as many jobs require language skills and employees do not possess them. This may involve spending time in a target-language country or community.
German is the most sought after language by employers in Northern Ireland. Currently graduates in German have 100% employment rate. There are not enough German speakers to fill roles in Northern Ireland and companies are spending more money on hiring and relocating employees from outside Northern Ireland to come and work here.
There are currently many jobs locally for speakers of different languages, including French, German, Irish, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Chinese, eastern European and Scandinavian languages.
More must be done in schools to recognise the value of languages and to encourage young people to take up a new language or continue studying a language after Key Stage 3. It is important that Careers advisers highlight this.
NICILT ran this event in March 2016 and you can find resources from this event here.