Date of Publication: July 2015
Series Title: Education and skills survey
Key messages on language skills:
- The proportion of businesses saying they have a need for foreign language skills among their employees has risen sharply (to 77%). The ability to communicate with other people in their own language can play a valuable part in forming relationships, building mutual understanding and trust, and developing the networks on which business opportunities depend.
- The vast majority of businesses do not require a high level of foreign language fluency as an essential core competence of their operations. However, 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 three finds it helpful in building relations with overseas suppliers, customers and other contacts.
- Around one in four UK employers says language skills assist staff mobility within the organisation, facilitating international working.
- Almost two thirds of UK employers are not satisfied with school/college leavers’ foreign language employability skills and over half 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 New World are increasingly seen as useful.