Date of Publication: July 2014
Key messages on language skills:
- Only around one third of businesses have no need at all for foreign language skills in their employees – and this is likely to decrease as we shift towards a more export-led economy.
- The vast majority of businesses do not require a high level of foreign language fluency as an essential core competence of their operations. But conversational fluency in another language helps in the conduct of business and can assist staff in their careers.
- Over two in five employers see foreign language ability as beneficial to the business although not a recruitment requirement, while more than one in four finds it helpful in building relations with overseas suppliers, customers and other contacts.
- Around one in six UK employers says language skills assist staff mobility within the organisation, facilitating international working.
- Language skills are more highly valued in those sectors leading the rebalancing towards a more export-oriented economy.
- Almost two thirds of UK employers are not satisfied with school/college leavers’ foreign language employability skills and a similar number perceive shortfalls in international cultural awareness among school and college leavers.
- French and German are the leading languages in demand by firms, but those geared to business in China and the Spanish speaking world are increasingly seen as useful.