Generation Global

Matching the supply of language skills from education to the needs of the labour market

Making languages your business

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Useful Links

A Trading Nation – helping Scottish businesses to export (2019) is the Scottish Government’s export growth plan. Find out what Scotland sells to different countries, where you could sell your products or services and get help to export.

See also Scottish Government: Exports

Exports and international markets (Scottish Enterprise) - Get support to develop an export plan, tap into global market expertise and identify international opportunities to boost your business from Scottish Enterprise.

Read some success stories from Scottish businesses who have had support from Scottish Enterprise to flourish in international markets

The Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) is an independent membership network which seeks to engage civic Scotland and influence Government and key stakeholders to ensure sustainable inclusive economic growth and flourishing communities, everywhere in Scotland.

Scottish Development International is Scotland’s inwards investment agency which aims to help businesses from around the world do business in or with Scotland.

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce offers businesses opportunities to identify new markets and start their exporting journey through its powerful global network.

The China-Britain Business Council helps British and Chinese businesses and organisations work together in China, the UK and third markets around the world. It has strong membership in Scotland and many useful resources on its website.

The Open University in Scotland offer a wealth of language provision from self-study to in-house company training to free online MOOCs. Find out more information on the work of the OU Scotland to grow Scotland’s capacity in languages.

Coffee Break Languages - learn a language on your Coffee Break, or on your way to work, at the gym, while walking the dog….

The Confucius Institute for Scotland offers a diverse programme of evening classes for the general public to enjoy learning Chinese. 

The French Institute in Edinburgh is a cultural centre promoting French language and French culture in Edinburgh and in Scotland and part of the wider Institut Français network around the world.

The Alliance Française Glasgow shares with others the love of the French language and culture, as well as other various aspects of the French way of life.

The Goethe-Institut Glasgow is the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany with a global reach. They promote the German language abroad and foster international cultural cooperation.

The Spanish Embassy Education Office promotes the Spanish language and culture to anyone interested in Spain and the Hispanic world.

Scotland-Russia Forum promotes an interest Russia and its neighbours in order to improve understanding of those countries in Scotland and offers language learning classes.

There are also language courses available at colleges and universities across Scotland:

Top tips

  1. Conduct a Language Needs Analysis.
    Identify linguistic strengths and weaknesses in your organisation, and define current and future language needs. This helps create clear goals and measurable outcomes for attaining the necessary language capacity.
  2. Create and maintain an inventory of the linguistic and cultural competencies of your workforce.
  3. Make languages a strategic focus throughout the recruitment process.
    Set hiring targets for employees with additional language skills based on your organisational goals. Prominently communicate interest in employees with multilingual and cross-cultural competencies in all recruiting resources and corporate communications.
  4. Train talented candidates and employees who lack the required level of language proficiency. Immersive training, private coaching, online programs and blended learning methods are viable options.
    Consider personalised, sector-specific training. Not all roles require full proficiency. Many require a working knowledge of a language within a specialised domain.
  5. Identify and cultivate a pipeline of multilingual talent:
    1. Partner with colleges and universities with international studies, language and study abroad programmes.
    2. Offer internships and job opportunities for qualified students and recent graduates with the linguistic and global competencies your organisation requires.

[adapted from Making languages our business (ACTFL, 2019)]


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Key reading

Making Languages Our Business: Addressing Foreign Language Demand Among U.S. Employers (May 2019)
Although set in a US context, this 2019 ACTFL report demonstrates that language skills are in high demand among employers across industries and that demand is expected to rise.

Speaking more than one language can boost economic growth (Feb 2018)
Online article from the World Economic Forum highlighting that countries who nurture languages and multilingualism reap economic rewards.

The costs to the UK of language deficiencies as a barrier to UK engagement in exporting: A report to the UK trade and investment (May 2014)
A report by Foreman-Peck and Wang in response to the recommendation on UK SME exports by the House of Lords Select Committee that UK trade and industry should improve the ability of SMEs to deal with language and cultural differences. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) commissioned this review of the evidence which shows the impact of language skill deficiencies on UK trade performance.

Language skills deficit costs the UK £48bn a year (Guardian, December 2013)
Guardian article stating a £48 billion annual loss due to the UK language deficit and reiterating the importance of language and intercultural skills for UK business.

The DYLAN project (Language dynamics and management of diversity)(October 2006 – September 2011)
Aimed to identify the conditions under which Europe's linguistic diversity could be an asset for the development of knowledge and economy. The project addressed issues for which multilingualism had economic, political, educational and scientific implications.

ELAN: Effects on the European Economy of Shortages of Foreign Language Skills in Enterprise (December 2006)
Commissioned by the European Commission in 2005. Its objective was to provide practical information and analysis of the use of language skills and the impact on business performance.

Further reports making the case for languages can be found on the Employment pages of SCILT’s website.

Find out more about our three-year Erasmus+ project

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