Minister Mitchell O’Connor calls on Higher Education and Enterprise sectors to lead the way in Foreign Languages Strategy

The Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., last night opened the “Education for a changing world – Languages for Employability in a Post-Brexit Ireland” Conference in the residence of the German Ambassador in Dublin.

Wednesday 23rd May 2018 – Residence of the German Ambassador in Dublin

Minister Mitchell O’Connor, said, “This Conference is bringing together key stakeholders including Higher Education and Enterprise sectors and representatives from Cultural Institutes and Embassies, who must all show leadership in delivering on key actions in the Foreign Languages Strategy.”

The central aim of the Action Plan for Education is to provide the best education and training system in Europe over the next decade. A central part of this is our ability to support our students with the skills to be global citizens, to understand other cultures and societies, as well as the skills to function and thrive in the modern economy.

Last December, “Languages Connect – Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2022 ” was launched with the vision to promote a society where the ability to learn and use at least one foreign language is taken for granted, because of its inherent value for individuals, society and the economy.

Both National and International research recognise the importance of foreign language skills, not only for personal enrichment and active citizenship but to increase employability and career opportunities. Ireland needs a workforce which has the necessary skills to attract new enterprise and to expand into new markets, particularly in a post-Brexit environment.

Some of the key target outcomes included in the Foreign Languages Strategy are:

– To increase the proportion of the higher education cohort studying a foreign language

– To increase participation in the Erasmus + programme

– To double the number of teachers participating in mobility programmes

– To improve learner attitude to foreign language learning and to highlight the benefits of learning a foreign language

– To adopt the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) by education institutions and by employers

– To enhance employer engagement in the development and use of trade languages

– To encourage enterprise to identify need and to support and invest in the development of those linguistic skills regionally

– To promote and encourage work placements requiring the use of foreign languages.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor stated that, “We need to prepare ourselves to take advantage of new opportunities and ensure that we have a steady stream of graduates with foreign language competence to meet these new business opportunities.”

The Minister thanked the Cultural Institutions and Embassies of Germany, France, Italy and Spain for facilitating the Conference, the outcome of which will build on the work already underway in the implementation of the foreign language strategy.

She wished the Conference every success and looks forward to hearing the outcome of the deliberations.