Employment

Research to support the business case for languages

Business case for languages

We have extracted the key messages on languages skills, business, employment and the economy from the following reports.

author SCDI, (2020)

Key messages on language skills:

Scotland faces a linguistic and cultural awareness skills gap. A lack of language skills across society is a barrier to many businesses exporting and the further internationalisation of the Scottish economy.

Improving the workforce’s language skills could boost Scottish GDP by up to £6.3 billion by reducing linguistic and cultural awareness barriers to internationalisation.

In an increasingly global economy and society, demand for language knowledge and skills and socio-cultural awareness will only increase

Language barriers are a significant barrier to the key objective of further internationalisation of the Scottish economy. Scottish businesses are often unable to maximise opportunities for increasing their exports to key target markets due to a lack of linguistic skills or socio-cultural awareness in their workforce

The Scottish Government, local authorities and employers should escalate investment in Modern Languages education and linguistic skills in the workforce to close the linguistic skills and cultural awareness gap

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author CBI/Pearson, (2019)

Key messages on language skills:

  • Foreign languages and cultural understanding will be vital for ‘Global Britain’…
  • Learning a foreign language can greatly benefit young people by introducing them to new cultures and dramatically expanding their horizon.
  • For the government vision of ‘Global Britain’ to be delivered, businesses need people who can communicate with customers and suppliers around the world.
  • For firms that need employees with languages other than English, major European languages continue to be those most in demand: German (37%), Spanish (35%) and French (32%).

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author British Academy, (2019)

Key messages on language skills:

A coordinated, strategy for languages in the UK could help to:

  • Create a global Britain that forges stronger trade and business links.
  • Create the mindset of cultural agility which enhances employability.
  • Strengthen the UK’s capacity for research and innovation—in science, technology, engineering, culture, the arts, humanities, social sciences, and many industries
  • Raise attainment standards across the school curriculum. Research has shown that languages are key facilitating subjects: they help with literacy and improve children’s access to other subjects within school.
  • Enhance skills and productivity in many sectors which face a language skills crisis, including the tourism and hospitality sector.
  • Further strengthen our diplomacy and soft power, our defence and security, and our work in international development.
  • Improve social mobility by giving all children the language skills that foster literacy, educational attainment, and a confident mindset.
  • Build social cohesion. Valuing ‘community’ languages aids social integration and national linguistic capacity, strengthening security and diplomacy.
  • Improve the quality and accessibility of public service interpreting and translation
  • Enhance our well-being: acquiring even basic competence in an additional language opens up our understanding of other cultures, our opportunities, our travel, our contacts, and our capacity to engage with those who are different from us.
  • Improve health and reduce health expenditure: research is beginning to suggest that the onset of dementia occurs earlier in monolinguals than in bilinguals, and that monolinguals recover more slowly from strokes.

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author CBI, (2018)

Key messages on language skills:

If the UK is to be successful as an open trading nation, a culture shift is needed to make the workforce more globally-orientated by default. This fundamentally requires more of its people to be able to communicate adequately in new markets and understand overseas environments and cultures.

The government must ensure the UK remains internationally competitive and that people are ready – skilled and equipped to take advantage of the opportunities. Vital to future prosperity and export performance are science, technology, engineering and maths subjects (STEM), as well as language skills.

The British Council predicts that the top five languages needed for the UK to remain competitive globally are: Spanish, Mandarin, French, Arabic and German. If there is a lack of wider provision of foreign languages for children, UK business will suffer and will be unable to exploit global opportunities effectively.

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author British Academy, British Academy (November 2017)

Key messages on language skills:

  • Skills of critical analysis, problem solving, negotiation and communication, speaking other languages and understanding other cultures have intrinsic value with huge benefits for society, contributing to social cohesion at home and the UK’s prosperity and security abroad.
  • We live in an increasingly diverse, multicultural society. In an increasingly global labour market and with more mobility in the workforce, the world is more interconnected than ever. Language skills, intercultural understanding, global awareness and an international mind set will be crucial for the future of the UK economy, society and for UK security and diplomacy.
  • AHSS graduates are already equipped with many of the skills required to thrive in a global context. These skills are not just limited to language and area studies graduates, but are found in many AHSS disciplines, including for example in history and geography, along with the broader skills of communication, diplomacy, negotiation and empathy which are shared across AHSS disciplines.
  • British Academy recommends that Government, universities and learned societies work together to realise the potential and added-value of AHSS as a context in which language, digital and data skills can be developed to ensure that the UK has the skills needed for productivity and growth in the 21st century

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author British Council, British Council (2017)

Key messages on language skills:

  • Language competence is far more than just another tool in the box; it is a prerequisite and a facilitator for the development of a wide spectrum of other skills and attributes.
  • Without language skills, the UK loses out through the restricted ability to communicate internationally.
  • Without language skills, the UK loses out through the closing down of opportunities for overseas work experience, a lack of international business sense, a failure to appreciate that other cultures have different ways of doing things and a potential tendency to overestimate the global importance of British culture.
  • Other languages are needed not only for success in the global economy but to build trust, deepen international influence and cultural relationships, and to keep our country safe.
  • The capacity of our country’s population to engage internationally will be central to strengthening successful economic, political, cultural and people-to-people relationships in Europe and globally in years to come.

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