Why languages can make a difference to your career

Joanne Grant, managing director JCDecaux Ireland, Philippe Milloux, director, Alliance Francaise Dublin, Minister Dara Murphy, Gerry O'Sullivan, head of international education, HEA and Sinéad D'Arcy, Jameson graduate programme manager

Joanne Grant, Managing Director JCDecaux Ireland, Philippe Milloux, Director, Alliance Francaise Dublin, Minister Dara Murphy, Gerry O’Sullivan, Head of International Education, HEA and Sinéad D’Arcy, Jameson Graduate Programme Manager

The gradireland languages event, Wednesday, March 4th, is a great opportunity for those with two or more languages to meet some of Ireland’s best employers, writes Fergal Browne.

The GRADchances language fair, in partnership with the Higher Education Authority (HEA), is Ireland’s only dedicated language careers event, bringing together over 20 of Ireland’s top employers with bilingual and multilingual graduates and students.

In an increasingly global and connected world, and with Ireland one of the world’s most open economies, the ability to speak a foreign language is seen as a massive asset, in any sector.  “Whether in business, entrepreneurship, the EU institutions or international organisations; having a second language can open up doors to all sorts of varied careers at home and abroad”, says Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection Dara Murphy who speaks four different languages; English, Irish, French and German.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Gerry O’Suillivan, Head of International Programmes at the Higher Education Authority, HEA, as well. “The ability to communicate effectively is essential to forging successful relationships. To be able to do that brings a competitive advantage and is extremely useful in building trust and confidence with our overseas partners”.

The Irish business and employers association, Ibec, actively promotes the use of foreign languages amongst workers and hopes the gradireland event will raise awareness amongst students and graduates about how important language learning is for the Irish economy and their future careers.

“Ireland is one of the most open, globalised economies in the developed world, so competitiveness is key. Our companies need to be proficient in the language of their customer”, says Tony Donohoe, Ibec’s Head of Education, Social and Innovation Policy.

“Six years ago the European Council challenged us to move away from an ‘official but lame bilingualism’ of English and Irish to a society where the ability to learn and use two and more languages is taken for granted”, he adds.

Last year’s gradireland languages event attracted over 700 bilingual and multilingual graduates with fluency in 76 languages with some meeting their future employers at the event.

“I introduced myself to the HEA, had a brief chat with them and just left my CV with them not expecting much”, says Mariana Reis from Brazil who graduated from International Business and Spanish in DIT in 2014. Two weeks later she received a phone call which led to part-time work while she finished her degree. She was made full-time at the HEA as an Executive Officer last June. She uses four languages in her role; her native Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian.

Recruiters will be looking for graduates across a range of sectors particularly engineering, marketing, sales, legal, management and IT while the major European languages, Mardarin and Russian were the most sought after languages, although employers emphasise any foreign language is a major asset.

For more information on the event, see the language fair website.

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