Fredericton, March 25, 2015 – Thanks to its two official languages, New Brunswick has a customer contact centre and back office industry generating $1.4 billion worth of export revenue annually for the province. It is estimated that this sector generates more than 15 000 jobs. In addition, both unilingual and bilingual New Brunswickers benefit from this economic activity given that the firms attracted to the province by the bilingual workforce have created two unilingual jobs for every bilingual job.
Those are some of the findings of a study co-authored by economist Pierre-Marcel Desjardins and economic development specialist David Campbell and commissioned by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick.
“Our bilingual advantage doesn’t only benefit bilingual people in the workforce” said the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Katherine d’Entremont. “The study clearly demonstrates that unilingual people benefit even more. Our bilingual advantage is also due to the presence of our two linguistic communities which allows our province to multiply opportunities for commercial exchange.”
The report highlights many economic benefits of the province’s bilingual character and workforce. The ability to serve customers across the country in both languages is cited as a key factor when national finance and insurance firms decide to locate or expand their operations in New Brunswick. Bilingualism has also led to the development of a vibrant language industry in the province. It also allows the Province to be able to attract post-secondary students from other provinces and countries to study in the province in either English or French.
“Our two languages are an important economic asset in a global economy”, said Katherine d’Entremont. The fundamental question that led us to commission this study last summer was: “How can we better understand the contribution of bilingualism to the New Brunswick economy as well as it’s untapped potential for economic growth?’’
The study proposes six concrete ways in which the province could leverage its bilingual workforce for future economic growth. Among those, the authors of the study suggest addressing the changing nature of customer contact centers, expanding educational services export revenue and promoting entrepreneurial activity at the intersection of language industries and technology.
“Government is looking for ways to grow and diversify its economy” said d’Entremont. By publishing this study, we’re making valuable information available to both government and private sector stakeholders working in economic development.”
The authors recommend the creation of an industry/government council with a mandate of identifying concrete measures to increase the economic benefits of bilingualism. This council would contribute to the development of industries for which bilingualism is a key factor. The council would also be responsible for a strategy to support businesses interested in enhancing the province's competitive advantage generated by bilingualism.
“New Brunswick is uniquely positioned to take greater advantage of its bilingualism asset” said d’Entremont. “The results of this study provide direction to government and the private sector to reach this goal”.
The study was made possible through financial support provided by the New Brunswick Regional Development Corporation.
For more information:
Director of Public Affairs and Research
506-444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444
About the Commissioner of Official Languages
The Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick is an independent officer of the Legislature. Her role is to protect the language rights of the members of the Anglophone and Francophone communities and to promote the advancement of both official languages.