Irish Speakers Have Head Start In Jobs Race

Irish speakers have developed an advantage in the job market according to a cross-border analysis by leading academics.

The report, co-authored by Professor Vani Borooah of the University of Ulster, found that the Republic’s labour market has an inbuilt bias that favours Irish speakers, even though many do not converse or use the language in their work.

The study found they are better educated and have a small but significant advantage over non-Irish speakers in securing professional, managerial and technical (PMT) jobs.

In the North, the ratios of people who have Irish and are in PMT jobs or have degrees are broadly similar to the Republic, the report said.

Professor Borooah has just been named in the top 10% of more than 2,000 UK economists - and highest ranked in Northern Ireland - by a world-renowned research and publishing unit of the University of Connecticut. He is Professor of Applied Economics.

The other authors of the report, entitled Language and Occupational Status: Linguistic Elitism in the Irish Labour Market, are University of Limerick academics, Donal A. Dineen and Nicola Lynch.

The report, using samples from UK and Irish census returns, set out to establish any advantages that Irish might speakers have in the Republic.

There, 42% of Irish speakers were in PMT jobs, compared to 27% of non-speakers. In Northern Ireland, the corresponding ratios were 36 and 23%.

In the North, similar ratios of Irish speakers and non-Irish speakers were unemployed, while in the South unemployment among non Irish-speakers was twice that of Irish speakers.

Compared to our nearest native language speaking counterpart, Wales, the report found there were almost equal ratios of Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers in PMT jobs, displaying little advantage for the bilingual.

However, whereas 23% of Welsh speakers had degrees only 16% of non-Welsh speakers had completed university.

The report pointed to the growing number of Irish-language schools and "networking" as possible reasons for Irish speakers’ success.

In the Republic, all other factors being equal, the report said that "the likelyhood of an Irish speaking worker being in the upper echelons of social class were significantly higher, and the likelihood of an Irish speaker in the labour force being unemployed were considerably lower."

Professor Borooah said: "If you look at people who are in PMT jobs, such as doctors, teachers, nurses etc, a greater proportion of Irish speakers are in these jobs than non Irish speakers.

"One thing that emerges is that Irish speakers are better educated than non-Irish speakers. They do the kind of subjects that take them into these kinds of occupations.

"It's a network effect. If you are in a network of Irish speaking people and part of that culture, and some of them are already in good jobs, well if a vacancy comes up, all things being equal they will prefer an Irish speaker to a non-Irish speaker. It is a network; you belong to a 'club'.

"Irish language schools produce results almost as good as fee paying schools and they certainly produce better results than English-language government school."


Related Irish News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

03 April 2008
Much More Irish Speakers Needed To Save Language
The Gaeltacht Minister has warned Ireland needs 250,000 more Irish speakers by 2028 to save the language. Speaking during a visit to the US, TD Eamon O'Cuiv called for more courage and leadership to ensure the native tongue thrives in a globalised world.
29 March 2012
Bertie Ahern Removed From Lucrative US Speakers Website
Troubled former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been removed from the listing of available speakers on the website of prestigious Washington Speakers Bureau. With his minimum fee listed as €30,000 he had been listed alongside other former politicians, including Tony Blair, George W Bush and John Major.
12 May 2016
ESPO Seeking Irish Language Speakers For EU Jobs
The European Personnel Selection Office (ESPO) has announced two new competitions to recruit Irish language speakers for positions on the EU's institutions in Brussels and Luxembourg.
16 May 2008
'Large Irish Presence' At Cannes
The focal point for the Irish film industry at the Cannes Film Festival, the Irish Pavilion, has opened again for business this week, with over 200 of the leading lights of the Irish film industry flying out to the festival to promote and sell new Irish cinema.
29 June 2011
Sinn Féin Pledges Support For Irish Language Strategy
Conradh na Gaeilge has commended Sinn Féin for seizing the opportunity to raise the question of the use of Irish in the Houses of the Oireachtas, and in the media in general, by organising a presentation ceremony of the Irish speakers’ symbol An Fáinne. The ceremony will take place today at Leinster House in Dublin.