Recruiters concerned by workers lacking a second language

Following this year’s CAO points scores, recruiters are concerned by a future skills shortage with many workers unable to speak a second language. 

Irish recruitment website has warned of potential skill shortages for roles requiring workers with a second language, following a decline in CAO points required for modern language courses.

Of the total language roles posted on the website since the beginning of 2019, 29pc of those require workers with the ability to communicate in German, followed by French (22pc), Dutch (13pc), and Italian and Spanish each at 6pc.

However, a rise can be seen in the number of jobs requiring non-European languages, such as Korean up 2,050pc on 2018, and Chinese up 40pc on 2018.

Jobs requiring a foreign language competency made up almost 4pc of total job postings on the site.

Ireland has long enjoyed the luxury of being an English-speaking country in a world where English has been the primary international language of communication.

However, with the UK set to leave the EU, Ireland’s relationships with non-English speaking countries continues to grow, with many international companies setting up European or EMEA headquarters in Ireland. As a result of this, the demand for bilingual workers remains high, particularly in customer service and sales roles.

Ireland already falls behind the rest of Europe in terms of foreign language learning. Without a strong pipeline of language graduates, Ireland faces a serious skills shortage in this area. This shortage could result in businesses looking further afield to fill positions, or possibly having to relocate to find a talent pool with the appropriate skillset.

Speaking in response to these developments, Chris Paye, general manager of said, “Foreign language skills are an essential criterion for employers looking to fill positions that may involve interaction with international customers or stakeholders. In today’s competitive jobs market, an extra language competency can often be the key differentiator between you and another eligible candidate when applying for a role.

“It’s encouraging that Irish universities such as DCU are offering business courses with a language. It’s a move away from the perception that a language degree is a route to teaching, when actually, there are a wealth of job opportunities available. For those with an extra language, there are no shortage of roles in technical and customer support in companies such as VoxPro, PayPal, eBay and National Pen.

“These roles are fantastic opportunities for people who might want to gain experience and grow their career with an international company.

“Equally, workers with a language skillset are an invaluable asset to Irish businesses that wish to expand outside of Ireland or access new markets. Employees that present with these skills can reap the benefits of the career development that this offers,” added Mr Paye.

The recent 2019 CAO results charted a decline in the points required for language courses, with UCD seeing points drop across its Modern Languages and Global Languages courses by 12 and 59 points respectively. Points for Applied Languages in UL also decreased, falling from 430 to 404.

Written by Stephen Larkin

Published: 17 September, 2019