Article Details

Article Details

Talking the talk, so that Scotland can walk the walk: A rapid review of the evidence of impact on Scottish business of a monolingual workforce

Author: Scottish Government
Publisher: Scottish Government
Date of Publication: 2012

The purpose of this report was to report findings to the Languages Working Group of the cost to Scotland of a monolingual workforce in order to support the delivery of an action plan for the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning for the manifesto commitment ‘that all students develop 1+2 languages’.


  • 75% of the world population speaks no English and only 6% are fluent in English. If nothing else shakes our complacency that English is enough, those figures should. But add these to the clear demand from business, and the weight of evidence that improving language skills will enhance life chances for individuals. Enhancing language skills increases the trading capabilities of companies and organisations; and provides growth for the economy, as well as enhancing Scotland’s international cultural reputation. Then the problem shifts from why we should invest in language skills to how we can make it happen.
  • While there may be insufficient data from Scotland to provide a detailed economic impact analysis of the ‘tax on trade’ for Scotland, if we take the minimum suggested by the analysis for the UK of half a billion pounds it is a prize worth securing and a price worth investing in acquiring the skills. 
  • Working closely with business organisations will enable Scotland not only to gather specific empirical evidence, but it will also build stronger ties between commerce and education that will bring significant rewards for Scotland.


University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages