The words, expressions and quirks that are unique to our language play a large part in how we see and understand the world. Those who are monolingual see the world with clear limits, while those with another linguistic string to their bow can understand the world from different perspectives. That’s why, in a world of borderless communications and global travel, it makes good business sense for your employees to speak more than one language, even if you’re lucky enough to have English or Spanish as your mother tongue.
The business case for bilingualism
If the cultural case for bilingualism wasn’t strong enough, the business case is certainly compelling. We have trawled the internet to find statistics that show just how beneficial hiring bilingual recruits can be, and we didn’t have to look too far.
Studies in Canada, Switzerland and the UK have all shown the potential financial rewards associated with bilingualism and multilingualism at different levels of a business. A good place to start is the EF English Proficiency Index, created by the World Economic Forum, which shows that the better the level of English spoken in countries around the world, the higher the income and quality of life of the country as a whole.
The cost of monolingualism
In terms of the impact of multilingualism on the economy of a country, Switzerland is a prime example of a country that really benefits from the language skills of its workforce. According to a 2008 study, Switzerland’s multilingual heritage, with German, French, Italian and now English all widely spoken, contributes 10 percent of Switzerland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This is because the language skills of the workers open up Swiss businesses to more markets, which benefits the economy as a whole.
In stark contrast to that is the UK, where stubborn attachment to the English language at the expense of all others, and an unwillingness to invest in language learning are estimated to cost the British economy £48bn a year. That’s the equivalent of about 3.5 percent of GDP.
The benefits of bilingualism for the individual
There are also a number of statistics out there that prove the benefits of bilingualism at an individual level, although these do vary by location, industry and level of employment. A 2010 Canadian study found that Canadian workers who were able to speak English and French earned an average of 3-7 percent more than their monolingual counterparts, even if they weren’t required to speak the second language on the job.
Similar studies in the US have found that the ability to speak a second language has the effect of increasing salary by 1.5-3.8 percent, depending on the second language the individual speaks. German is the most valuable second language in the US due to its scarcity and the important role Germany plays in global trade.
The same can be said for English-speaking workers in India, although in this case, the financial benefit is much more pronounced. A study found that Indian workers who speak English earn an average of 34 percent more per hour.
The business case is made
Do you want to hire bilingual recruits with improved multi-tasking and problem-solving skills who can also give your business a competitive edge?
At Linguistica Recruitment, we find and place skilled and experienced bilingual workers in commercial, technical and administrative positions across the South Coast. For more information, please get in touch today.