Forfás says that Ireland needs more graduates who can speak foreign languages including Chinese, Russian and Arabic if it is to drive export performance.

It recommends boosting the supply of foreign language skills at third level.

Forfás says it consulted with over 60 both foreign and indigenous companies.

A report by Forfás, says companies here are anticipating difficulties in sourcing international sales staff and people with foreign language proficiency, as well as software engineers.

It also recommends the introduction of compulsory modules on international sales in business courses.

It says there are 2,200 potential future job opportunities with exporting companies which could be filled through skills conversion courses, developed in partnership with industry.

These jobs would be in areas including computing, customer sales and service support with foreign languages, and project management.