Oz ex-PM wants job quota for students speaking Asian languages

Days after Australia unveiled an ambitious plan of teaching languages like Hindi and Mandarin in schools, ex-prime minister Kevin Rudd has appealed to the business community to keep a separate quota of jobs for students who can speak Asian languages.

Rudd hailed Government's move of issuing a white paper that suggests building strong and deeper ties with the Asia region.

Rudd said businesses also need to provide incentives for students.
The suggestion came days after the Federal government rolled out the Whitepaper on Asian century which outlines the need to introduce Asian languages including Hindi in school.

The white paper calls for more students to be taught at least one of four Asian languages, Mandarin, Japanese, Hindi and Indonesian, in every school in Australia.
"They need to know there's a career path for them," Rudd was quoted by ABC News as saying.

"So if the 100 businesses which make up the Business Council of Australia were simply to say each of us will provide 10 graduate jobs for first class Chinese speakers, Japanese speakers or whatever, each year, that's 1,000 jobs on the Australian market," Rudd said.

"Kids will respond to that and they will master these languages and become as they were, the army of the future in our economic engagement with the neighbourhood," he said.

Rudd said the roadmap to 2025 set out in the white paper is comprehensive and a "wake-up call" to Australia.

"It draws together the various arms of what both government, corporates and others in Australia are doing in their engagement with Asia and charts a framework for the future," he said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard last month released the sweeping policy blueprint entitled 'Asian Century White Paper' aimed at maximising links with Asia which will power Australia into the world's top 10 wealthiest nations by 2025.

"While Australia was changing, Asia was changing too. Whatever else this century brings, it will bring Asia's return to global leadership, Asia's rise," Gillard, who was recently on her maiden official visit to India, had said.

All Australian schools will engage with at least one school in Asia to support the teaching of a priority Asian language -- Mandarin, Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese, she had said.

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