There probably aren’t many talking points bigger than ‘Brexit’ right now in the UK. For those of you without a firm grasp of your political abbreviations, Brexit is the shortened form of ‘British exit’, and it refers to the possibility that Britain will withdraw from the European Union. The recent local elections received a pretty abysmal turnout, but the up coming in-out referendum on the UK’s EU membership, to held on June 23, has got everyone talking.
The reason so many people are interested in the ‘should we stay or should we go?’ question right now is because the potential impact of a vote to leave will be felt in so many different ways. The effects are even likely to reach all you bilingual job seekers in one way or another. So, if you’re interested in the health of the bilingual jobs market, what do you need to know?
There could be more jobs for British bilinguals
According to recent research by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, most EU citizens currently working in the UK would not meet existing visa requirements for non-EU foreign nationals who apply for jobs here.
The study shows there are almost 2.2million EU workers in the UK, making up about 6.6 percent of the total workforce. Many of these work in sectors where bilingualism is not a prerequisite for the role, such as manufacturing, retail, hotels and restaurants. However, there are also many who work in skilled roles, such as banking and finance, where the ability to speak a second language is essential.
The study acknowledges that Britain would likely change its immigration requirements if we voted to quit the EU, potentially easing the rules to allow some immigration. Legal experts also suggest that those already in the country would be entitled to stay.
However, if the UK was to leave the EU, there’s likely to be many more bilingual roles that would need to be filled by British bilingual speakers. This is due to the fact that immigration rules would be likely to tighten.
What impact would this have on the economy?
Although jobs would be easier for British bilinguals to find, companies in the UK already admit to struggling to employ bilingual speakers with the skill sets they need, and that’s with the current influx from the EU. Research for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills found that a lack of language skills in the UK is costing the economy around £48bn a year. If we leave the EU this skills deficit is likely to worsen, as one employer speaking to the Financial Times explains:
“I employ Germans to deal with German customers and French nationals to deal with French customers. While it is possible to find bilingual British nationals to replace such profiles, it would certainly be a lot harder to provide the same level of service.”
British bilinguals who want to work in the EU
If Britain were to tread the Brexit path, life could be made more difficult for British bilinguals looking for opportunities to work in the EU. If we vote ‘yes’ in June, UK citizens could have to satisfy more restrictive rules on getting a work permit, setting up a business, studying and bringing family members to join them in EU member states.
Although this doesn’t mean UK bilinguals won’t be able to find work in the EU, they probably won’t be able to come and go quite as easily as they can now. The rules are likely to be more restrictive, which could make it difficult to find that dream bilingual job abroad.
The help you need to find a bilingual job in the UK
Brexit or no Brexit, at Linguistica Recruitment we’re here to help you find top bilingual job opportunities on the South Coast of England. Please take a look at our latest bilingual vacancies and send us your CV today.