The English Language Industry COVID-19 Recovery document outlines the significant challenges facing the sector this year. The document was created by MEI (representing 65 schools) and the Independent Language School Group (representing 23 schools).
More than 150,000 individual students attend courses with English Language Teaching Organisations (ELTO’s) in Ireland every year. The total value of the language school sector to the Irish economy (including direct, indirect and induced revenue) is estimated to be at least €880m. The sector employs 3,000+ workers full time and a further 7,000+ seasonal and part time workers.
The industries supported by the sector are as varied as they are many. They include the many thousands of host families who accommodate international students, private bus companies, state schools that lease their premises during the summer, and countless businesses within the tourism sector. Given that ELTO’s in Ireland operate from every county in the country this potential loss of revenue will adversely affect a great many people.
We are an industry that relies on international students and thus international travel. While other industries may be able to adapt and get back on their feet more quickly, social distancing measures and / or extended quarantining periods for new visitors to Ireland will have an overwhelming long-term effect on our sector.
There is tremendous goodwill towards Ireland and the English Language industry from abroad, and the government has rightly been lauded for including international student in unemployment and wage subsidy schemes, as well as granting access to Irish hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, in the absence of continued support from the government a significant number of schools will not be able to reopen their doors in September. There is a real danger of a series of closures, effectively wiping out our industry, leaving many thousands of in-country students in limbo and devastating knock on effects to wider tourism services sector.