The British Academy launched a report about the demand and supply of language skills in the UK in February 2013. Key findings of this report, Languages: The State of the Nation, include:
Another survey, somewhat complementary to the previous report, was conducted by CBI/Pearson. This report offers a wider approach to this issue, adding data about education and skills and how these affect the economic performance of the country. A special emphasis has been placed on language skills in the business sector. The picture presents the top languages UK managers find useful to their organisations.
Of course, the importance of language skills of the employees depend on the business sector. However, about 70% of all company managers questioned agree that these skills are beneficial for their organisation in one way or another.
As you can see, French and German lead the demand for foreign languages in the UK, with Spanish coming third. This is not a surprise, since France and Germany are still the largest export markets for British goods. The need for Polish is also predictable, considering the large number of Polish immigrants within the UK.
Even though the European languages remain in greatest demand, one cannot overlook the prominent increase of the Chinese language. 28% of UK managers consider Mandarin a useful language for their organisations, while 16% consider Cantonese valuable. These languages are important assets of their employees. Also, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese and Japanese seem to have a greater demand compared to last year. The French and the German markets may be the largest for the British, but the emerging markets of China, Russia, Brazil and Japan are to be taken into serious consideration.
It is a known fact that SMEs that invest in language management (having a language strategy; appointing native speakers; recruiting staff with language skills and using translators or interpreters) get a satisfactory ROI. The export figures of these companies are usually higher than those that stick only to one language when doing business. We have blogged about this before and you can find out more figures here.
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