Pioneering study finds Gaelic is key asset to Scotland's businesses

12 November 2014

Pioneering study finds Gaelic is key asset to Scotland

GCU has expertise in Gaelic research

The economic and social value of Gaelic as a unique asset for Scotland is the focus of a pioneering study which is published this week.

Almost 70% of businesses consulted said that Gaelic is an asset to their activities. More than half of businesses (60%) and 85% of community organisations who responded to the survey stated that Gaelic features as a key element of their work. Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) led the partnership project to research ways in which Gaelic is currently being used to deliver economic and social benefits to businesses, social enterprises and communities, and how its impact can be maximised.

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) was part of a four organisation team, which also included DC Research Ltd, Pirnie Ltd, and Cogent Strategies International, commissioned to conduct the research,  working with, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Scottish Natural Heritage, Creative Scotland, The Highland Council, Argyll and Bute Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. Entitled Ar Stòras Gàidhlig (Our Gaelic Resource), the resulting report demonstrates how the language is currently being used to add value in a wide variety of circumstances and highlights its considerable potential to bring further benefits to businesses, communities and individuals.

The majority of businesses which recognised Gaelic as an asset were located in the Outer Hebrides, the Highlands, Greater Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Argyll and Bute. Examining data from the respondents, the researchers were able to quantify that the combined impact on turnover which was attributable to their use of Gaelic totalled £5.6m. From this result, they calculated that the potential economic value of Gaelic as an asset to the wider Scottish economy could be from £81.6m to £148.5m a year.

Director of Strengthening Communities with HIE, Rachael McCormack, said: “These findings lay a baseline for further research and will inform actions which HIE and our partners will take in future to support businesses and communities which can benefit from developing their use of Gaelic, and make a wider contribution to overall economic growth.” Many communities who took part in the survey regarded tourism as one of the main areas where there is strong potential to develop and enhance the role of Gaelic as an economic asset.

GCU’s Dr Douglas Chalmers was part of the team to gather detailed information from businesses, communities and social enterprises which are currently using Gaelic to add value to a product, service or activity. This research follows on from recent work on the economic value of the Creative Industries in the Western Isles and previous research in the area of Gaelic Arts and Culture, praised by the chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig as some of the best academic research done by universities in this field.

An economist by profession, Dr Chalmers has specialised for over ten years in the economics of minority languages, arts and culture and has undertaken research and consultancy for many organisations, including Creative Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, City of Glasgow Council, The Gaelic Arts Agency (Pròiseact nan Ealan), and the Gaelic Language Board (Bòrd na Gàidhlig).

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