UK WORKERS RISK FALLING MASSIVELY BEHIND IN INTERNATIONAL JOB STAKES
Dearing review long overdue says language recruiter
Lord Dearing’s policy review of language teaching in schools is long overdue says specialist multi lingual recruiter Euro London Appointments – and probably doesn’t go far enough. According to the recruiter, modern European languages are only part of the picture as there is also a real shortage of Asian and emerging market language skills such as those associated with the booming economies of China and India – and without them UK workers are running a real risk of falling behind in the global economy.
“We recruit multi lingual personnel into several sectors including banking & finance, marketing, customer service, IT and office support, and there are nowhere near enough UK nationals with the necessary linguistic abilities to fill the roles available”, says Director Steve Shacklock. British candidates who speak a foreign language ‘fluently’ are rarely as fluent as foreign nationals are in English – mainly because British nationals tend to speak another language only if they have studied it. If you take a landlocked country like Luxembourg, you will find candidates who will speak three or four languages – including English - as a matter of course – it’s just part of their culture. And that’s important as in some sectors, we are finding an increase in demand for candidates with more than one additional language. The customer service sector is a good example of this. Whereas a year ago a centre may have employed two English/French speakers and two English/German speakers, the need to review costs and efficiency levels has meant that they will now ask for three people with multilingual capabilities so that they can provide cover for each other.
“We are also finding that those UK nationals who can speak more than one language see it as a special skill which should command a premium in salary terms – other European nationals see languages as a natural part of their skill set – and do not expect to get paid extra for it.”
And it’s not just modern European languages that are in demand says Shacklock. “The ever evolving restrictions on listing on US exchanges means that many companies are opting for the European option as an alternative. Consequently some of the major exchanges are now promoting themselves into new markets leading to the need for languages such as Russian, Mandarin and Cantonese. Many of the candidates with those sorts of language skills tend to be nationals with perfect English rather than the other way round.”
“We live in a shrinking world, says Shacklock, “where businesses of all sizes can operate in global markets. The challenge that comes with this opportunity is being able to understand the needs, aims, motivations of a potential cusotmner base that spans the world. And for the business leaders of tomorrow that can only mean that languages will become even more important. The message is clear - learn a language – get a job!”
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