English might be the established language of international business, but recent research, which reveals that two-thirds of UK businesses are looking to recruit staff with foreign language skills, shows all that is set to change.
The rise of emerging markets in Asia and Latin America is threatening to stifle the UK economy, as businesses keen to capitalise on the new opportunities overseas struggle to hire the linguists they need.
The UK has long been criticised on the European and international stage for a perceived reluctance to learn foreign languages or promote their learning in schools. Now this apathetic approach to language learning has created a skills gap British businesses are desperately trying to fill.
Which languages are in demand?
Of the 291 companies surveyed in the annual education and skills survey conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), 41 percent said they believed knowledge of a foreign language would be beneficial to their business, while 65 percent identified a need for foreign language skills.
Given the fact that the EU is still the UK’s biggest exporting market, it is no surprise to see European languages valued so highly, but with China and Latin America seeing solid growth, ambitious UK firms are clearly on the lookout for the language skills that can smooth the path into new markets.
The most sought after languages include:
1. French (50 percent)
2. German 49 percent)
3. Spanish (44 percent)
4. Mandarin (31 percent)
5. Arabic (23 percent)
6. Polish (19 percent)
7. Russian (18 percent)
8. Cantonese (16 percent)
9. Japanese (15 percent)
10. Portuguese (11 percent)
11. Other (16 percent)
An increase in ‘skills shortage vacancies’
There have been worrying signs in British schools, with one in five having a persistently low take-up of foreign languages, and teachers struggling to make children appreciate the role a foreign language in many modern careers. There has also been a slump in the number of students studying foreign languages over the last decade.
The result of this dwindling appetite for foreign language learning has been a widening of the skills gap, with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills reporting an increase in ‘skills shortage vacancies’, where businesses cannot find recruits with the qualifications and experience they need.
How can we help?
At Linguistica Recruitment, we work with candidates and employers to place highly qualified, talented linguists in ambitious companies on the South Coast. We fill vacancies across a diverse range of sectors and industries, helping our candidates find fulfilling linguistic careers rather than stop-gap jobs.