Irish people wanted in Brussels and even under sunny Greece

Less than two days after Irish reached full parity as the official language of the European Union, vacancies looking for Irish speakers have appeared in an unexpected place.

The vacancies sought someone with ‘Irish language proficiency’ and a ‘customer service mindset’, and offered a full relocation package including flights, private health insurance, temporary hotel accommodation and help finding an apartment in. . . Greece.

Vacancies for digital business consultants, quality analysts and Irish speaking supervisors can be found at the Teleperformance Greece call center, which provides technical support and customer service on behalf of large technology companies.

HR Director Triantafillos Alexopoulos said the demand for Irish language speakers came from their clients and he assumed this was linked to the new status of Irish as a working language in its own right. ‘EU.

“There are a lot of people who still speak this language and feel more comfortable communicating with this language,” Alexopoulos told the Irish Times.

Customers who choose the option of getting help as Gaeilge would be put in touch with the Irish speakers at Teleperformance. If the call volume was low, the Gaeilgeorí of Athens could also be asked to handle calls in English.

Successful applicants would join a multilingual team covering 45 European languages, including Flemish, Finnish, Icelandic and various Spanish languages. While wages are not much by Irish standards, they are double the standard in Greece, said Alexopoulos.

“We call it the Mediterranean experience,” Alexopoulos continued, checking the name of the culture, food, museums and beach. “Due to the pandemic, 95% of our employees work from home remotely from Athens or all of Greece.”

The vacant Teleperformance post was not the only international Irish language opportunity to appear this week. The Dutch international recruitment service Undutchables has published an advertisement for an Irish ‘mortgage specialist’ working in The Hague.

Irish mortgage education, postgraduate education in economics, business or law, and a C2 or Irish native level are required for the position, which involves financial analysis and reporting and is likely to be accompanied by ‘a substantial salary. In the typical Dutch style, it is possible to work only 24 hours a week, although a 40 is preferable.

But the real hubs for Irish language jobs in the EU are of course Brussels and Luxembourg.

There, the ranks of a former hard core of Irish speakers working in the field of translation and interpretation within the European institutions have almost tripled in the past five years and are expected to exceed 200 this year.

Office life among Irish speaking staff is conducted almost entirely like Gaeilge, although working from home shifts many conversations to video calls, emails and chat.

But the presence of the language goes further than that.

“If I meet friends, in a restaurant or cafe or bar or whatever, it’s often Irish that we speak,” said Seán Gunning, a 2020 law graduate and Irish at University College Cork who does part of the new promotion from last year. , remembering an incident where he heard a foreigner in Brussels speaking Irish in the street.

“It’s crazy to think that when I’m home in Cork, I wouldn’t speak as much Irish as I do when I’m here in Brussels.”

Irish Donegal

The slightly haphazard international reach of Irish is nothing new to Jim Maher, who works on international affairs in the European Parliament and created the institution’s Irish-language Twitter account. In a previous life he taught Irish at a university in Minneapolis.

“I was literally on a bus in San Francisco speaking Irish, and someone yelled on the bus in Donegal’s thickest Irish imaginable and jumped into the conversation,” Maher recalls.

Another time he was caught in a queue at the Fernsehturm TV Tower in East Berlin. “My friends and I decided to start chatting about some of the people in front of us in the queue. And someone right behind us took part in the conversation, and we were completely mortified.

Aileen Glynn, a European Commission translator who attended the all-Irish Coláiste Íde boarding school in Dingle, described her job as rewarding and said she came away “proud” to work alongside the teams of translators in other languages. “You realize that it is a language like English, French or Dutch. It has a place and a purpose.

Maher offered an international perspective.

“Few people would really realize that there are more universities and colleges in North America that teach Irish than much larger languages ​​like Greek or the Scandinavian languages ​​teach, for example.” , said the European Parliament’s senior political adviser. “There are tens of thousands of languages ​​on earth, and most of them are in a weaker state than Irish.”

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