Italy is the eighth largest economy in the world, slightly behind France and the UK, of the same size as Russia and still much larger than India. Its beauty and charm sometimes overshadow its economic dimension, and the recent euro-crisis has not helped in this respect. Italy is not only a cultural superpower, but also a major global manufacturer. An estimated 7,500 American companies do business with Italy and more than 1,000 U.S. firms have offices in Italy, including Chrysler, IBM, General Electric, Motorola, Citibank. Many Italian firms have offices in the U.S. The recent takeover of Chrysler by Fiat might have brought this to people’s attention.
Italian is also a wise choice for those interested in careers in renewable energy, which accounts for over a quarter of all energy produced in Italy. Recently Italy has experienced a boom in wind, photovoltaic and concentrated solar power industries, along with innovation in green building standards. The recent surge in renewable R&D and investment in Italy is remarkable: total electricity produced from solar PV quintupled in 2011 compared to the previous year.
Also, Italy is now part of the “100 Billion Trade Surplus Club”: the nation recently generated a $113 billion surplus in non food products in 2012. And so Italy joins China, Germany, Japan and South Korea as one of five G-20 countries that have a structural manufacturing surplus. Of this surplus, a full EUR 76.4 billion (more than 80% of the total) derived from machinery and equipment, electrical goods, non-automotive transport equipment, metal products, and rubber and plastic articles. These booming export industries absolutely need English speakers with good Italian skills to continue globalizing their book of business.
Now, no matter how hard they try, Italians are still far away from a flawless command of the English language. They need native English-speaking managers and qualified personnel, in a large amounts, to sustain Italy’s business in its international outreach. Of course, this line of reasoning is all the more compelling if your kids would like to pursue a career in the world of design, architecture, art restoration, music and arts in general, in which Italy excels globally. For Americans, who already speak the “lingua franca” of the world, the Italian language can be a powerful tool to find jobs in the internationalization of the Italian economy and the Italian society at large.