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Home » Education » How foreign language education can influence Irish business growth and talent development

Helen McMahon

Senior Strategic Policy Advisor, Enterprise Ireland

Embracing foreign language skills can support the growth of Irish enterprises internationally. Find out how language proficiency future-proofs Irish talent.

Recent client surveys, undertaken by Enterprise Ireland, have highlighted that access to skills is a major challenge to company development and a critical obstacle to company growth.

Foreign language skills for business growth

The availability of human capital and a skilled workforce, as well as the commitment of those in education to address these needs, is critical to support Irish enterprises as they look to scale their businesses internationally. Language proficiency and cultural understanding are essential skills to support building international Irish enterprises. The lack of language skills is a significant trade barrier, with Ireland lagging when it comes to language proficiency, especially when compared with other EU member states.

Language proficiency and cultural understanding
are essential skills to support building
international Irish enterprises.

Future-proofing Irish Students

Primary, post-primary and lifelong learning initiatives are essential to develop and embed language skills in the Irish workforce. They allow us to future-proof talent and support Irish enterprises as they address the impact of globalisation, geopolitical developments and changes in international trade.

Fostering foreign language education in Irish schools is not merely an academic exercise but a strategic imperative. It prepares students for a globalised world, enhances their cognitive and cultural capabilities and ensures Ireland’s active and informed participation in the European and global arenas.  Critically, it ensures an agile, highly skilled talent pool for Irish enterprises with the ambition to scale internationally.

Supporting Ireland’s language strategy

Languages Connect is Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017–2026. It focuses on enhancing foreign language education, underscoring the critical importance of multilingual competence for individuals, society and the economy.

This comprehensive plan envisions a future where learning and using at least one foreign language is commonplace, emphasising the inherent value of linguistic skills. The school system has a critical role to play in language and transversal skills development for the workforce of the future. Visit to find out more about supporting foreign language learning for Irish students.

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