Call for tax credits to boost languages
Languages need to be given much more prominence in the national school curriculum if the Northern Ireland business community is to thrive on a global stage, the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce has warned.
The next generation of business owners need to be "born global", it said.
The Chamber called for modern languages to be compulsory until AS level and for financial incentives – such as tax credits for small and medium-sized businesses which invest in language training – to be made available by the Government.
"Despite the vast opportunities available, businesses are still reluctant to take their first steps and enter Middle Eastern markets," Sandra Scannell, Operations and Programmes director at NI Chamber of Commerce said following the latest Danske Bank Export First event held in Belfast last week.
She said that in recent research commissioned by the Chambers of Commerce network, almost half of businesses claimed that language barriers influence whether, when and where, to enter international markets. In the UK up to 96% of businesses have no foreign language ability for the markets they serve.
"Businesses must therefore invest in language skills for their existing staff however Government must play its part by re-establishing foreign languages as core subjects within the national curriculum," Ms Scannell said.
"The National Curriculum must be revised so that studying a foreign language is compulsory until AS level, and introduce incentives such as tax credits for small and medium-sized businesses who make a significant investment in language training."