THERE are 2,000 jobs available for German speakers in Ireland, German Irish Chamber of Commerce president Ralf Zimmermann said yesterday at the trade body's annual Christmas lunch.
Mr Zimmermann appealed to anybody in the audience who knows German speakers to get in touch with the chamber as members try to fill vacancies with candidates who can speak the most widely spoken language in western Europe.
The chamber estimates that around 2,000 people are employed in Ireland because of their German knowledge.
Around 4,300 higher level candidates sat the Leaving Certificate in German last year – a third of the 13,720 students who opted for French.
Enterprise Ireland boss Frank Ryan also highlighted the importance of languages for those trying to do business overseas. "I'm often asked what is the world's most important business language," said Mr Ryan. "The answer is your customer's language."
The Government must act now to push language teaching in schools while preserving the teaching of Irish, he added.
"I think the government's legacy should be that we boldly acted...to become a multi lingual society," he told his audience.
Around one in eight students in Irish secondary schools is not a native English speaker because they either grew up abroad or live in a family where English is not the mother tongue.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said earlier this week that he would like to see more time devoted to science and maths in schools, rather than Irish and religion.
He noted that the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is currently conducting a review of time spent teaching all subjects at primary level and added he was awaiting the outcome with interest.