Department of Education & Skills, Marlborough Street, Dublin D01 RC96 mary.mitchelloconnor@oir.ie 01-8892199

Continued focus on a multi-lingual workforce will ensure Ireland remains attractive

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, today (Wednesday) said that if Ireland is to remain attractive to multi-national companies, we must ensure that our workforce is equipped with the skills required and that means encouraging a multi-lingual workforce.

Deputy Mitchell O’Connor was speaking following a meeting today of the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Social Protection & Education, which was attended by Enterprise Ireland & IDA, during which languages were identified as a key tool for moving Ireland forward.

“A multi-lingual workforce is an essential component to attracting new business into Ireland. We have a highly skilled and linguistically proficient workforce in Ireland that is a big draw for foreign mulit-nationals. Only yesterday our strength in this area was rewarded by PayPal’s decision to locate 1,000 new jobs in Ireland as their operations will deal with customers in 14 languages.

“Our linguistic excellence is also evident in the growth of our localisation sector, which focuses on adapting products, such as mobile phones, to other environments or countries, culturally and linguistically. This sector employs about 15,000 people and is worth an estimated €680 million annually to Ireland with the bulk of some of the world’s largest software and web companies, such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, IBM, LinkedIn and Microsoft conducting the majority of their multilingual customer support here.

“Our IT industry has also grown dramatically in recent years with the Director of Geo Operations for Google in Europe, David Martin, referring to Dublin as ‘rapidly becoming the multilingual internet capital of Europe’. Economist Ronan Lyons further stated that Ireland was ‘probably the hottest place for digital content outside of Silicon Valley’ due to its huge growth in linguistics and localisation.

“Our growth in expertise in this area is due in part to the provision of Government funding for the Centre for Next Generation Localisation; a major research centre working towards advancing computer adaptability to different languages and cultures. The recently launched Action Plan for Jobs also placed a focus on fostering sectors identified as having significant future growth potential such as financial services, cloud computing and the digital sector.

“Our talents and skills in this area have to be nurtured and that means ensuring that our workforce remains multi-lingual. I will be investigating ways the State and our education centres can work together to maintain and develop our expertise.”