Foreign Language Skills Deemed a Necessity in UK Business

Foreign Language Skills Deemed a Necessity in UK Business

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has announced that nearly two thirds of 300 recently surveyed UK businesses prefer staff with foreign language skills.

The statement comes ahead of the CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey for 2014, due to be published in July.

According to the report, European languages such as French, German and Spanish are highly sought after, but Arabic and Mandarin are of growing importance.

Polish, Russian, Cantonese and Japanese were also noted.

CBI Deputy Director-General, Katja Hall said, “With the EU still our largest export market, it’s no surprise to see German, French and Spanish language skills so highly prized by companies. But with China and Latin America seeing solid growth, ambitious firms want the language skills that can smooth the path into new markets.”

The CBI claims the UK’s education system is failing to produce enough people with foreign language skills to meet the growing demand in business and commerce. This follows a greater concern from the UK government and many educational professionals, that the UK is in the midst of a ‘language learning crisis’.

Figures stated 41% of businesses claimed knowledge of a foreign language was beneficial, while 28% believed language skills would aid overseas relations.

Last year, the British Council published a report urging schools to teach a wider range of languages to help boost the appeal of foreign language education, while raising its status to the same level as math and the sciences.

From September of this year, foreign language education will be compulsory from the age of seven in all UK schools.