As many of you will know I'm not gifted in languages, not that this doesn't stop me trying to learn some. The one I found easiest out of all the ones I have settled down to try and learn was Spanish. However, I do not that I am at a comparative disadvantage to those who do possess language skills. This is something that really struck home when I worked in a multi-lingual call centre environment, where people were able to take calls fluently in their second, third or even fourth languages.
Therefore the news that the University of Ulster has deemed it wise that as part of their cuts will include the modern language school at the Coleraine campus seems to me the most backward and ill-thought out of the consequences of their reduced budget.
We are constantly hearing that Northern Ireland needs to reach out for inward investment. But by reducing the number of spaces for modern language courses in Northern Ireland, leaving only the Queen's language school offering degrees, will lead to a skills exodus as Northern Ireland's language scholars will go elsewhere to either do a straight language course or one combined with business or other courses. Most of these students of course will never return, or maybe not return straight away meaning that where our business opportunity need people with language skills to bring in that foreign investment we will be falling behind.
The economic knock back of losing the language school at Coleraine is something that will impact on Northern Ireland. So while the current intake of language students there will be the last before the school is wound down we need action to make Northern Ireland remain attractive to investors from wherever utilising all the skills, especially those of language that we are required to be active in some of those markets where Spanish, German, French, Chinese or whatever are advantageous.