I was delighted last night when I came across a BBC article that professed the news that new research had found that Gaelic contributes as much as £148.5 million each year to the Scottish economy.
The research was undertaken and published by Highlands and Islands Enterprise to estimate the value of Gaelic to the economy and society of Scotland on the whole. It’s the first real effort to research the topic and it is a big step in terms of developing the language that an evaluation of this kind exists.
The research was centred largely on businesses that use Gaelic, with over 300 investigated. Over 70% said that Gaelic was a major asset to their company. Even though the research didn’t look at the effects on companies outside of the Gaelic ‘bubble’, it still reached conclusions that were massively favourable to the estimation of the language.
In my opinion, the research has drawn a line under any argument that people have against Gaelic as a feature of the country’s culture and public life.
We knew already that Gaelic had massive benefits for speakers of the language, such as better communication skulls, a rich and diverse culture and higher standard of programming on average and much more – but now we have concrete figures that anybody can pick up and understand and use to show the value of the language.
We can now show that Gaelic isn’t only just a cultural feature. No matter your opinion on how important the language is, it’s ludicrous to suggest that £148.5 million isn’t a massive boon to the economy. This is the equivalent of 5,000 people getting involved in the economy for just Gaelic, and even if that doesn’t sound like much of an impressive figure, when you consider that that doesn’t include any activities these ‘people’ engage in outside of Gaelic then it shows the true strength of it.
Perhaps the best thing about the research is that Gaelic adds far, far more to the economy than it receives in finding. In 2012-13, the Scottish Government spent £20.6 million on Gaelic. At the lowest ebb of the research’s estimation, Gaelic’s value is at least £81.6 million – and if Gaelic contributes four times the funding it receives to the economy I think that it’s perhaps one of the most lucrative investments the Government makes. And if we use the highest estimate of Gaelic’s value then the language adds SEVEN times the funding it receives to the economy. If I had the opportunity to invest in stocks and shares where I’d receive seven times the money back that I invested I’d put every last penny into it.
There’s still a long way to go in Gaelic’s development, but this research shows that the language is an very important part of Scotland’s economy as well as a very, very important part of Scotland’s culture. The time has come for the population as a whole to understand and accept that fact so that the language can grow and country’s culture and economy can too.