Expanding horizons
with Languages Work*
Raising awareness of the true value
of languages in the workplace
and beyond
What does ‘Vorsprung durch
Technik’ mean?
Audi’s Head Office is in Germany but it makes cars in six
countries. Do you know which they are?
Go to www.languageswork.org.uk to find the answers
• Globalisation – competition, mergers, outsourcing,
• Relies heavily on exports
• Raw materials sourced overseas
• Importance of cultural skills as well as languages
Debunking myths
• UK employers are not interested in language skills
• English is the international language of business
• Languages are only useful for high flyers in international
• Languages are not a ‘vocational’ subject
• You can only do interpreting/translating or teaching
• You have to want to work abroad
How much do employers value language skills?
• Employers are not all language-aware, but
they are becoming more so
• They can recruit internationally
• They don’t just want language skills
• Mismatch between supply and demand
• You are in a better position with a language
than without one
‘Employees with language skills are definitely more marketable and have
more worth in the labour market’
Bob Shankley, HR Director, BMW
‘It is important that our employees are able to communicate in a variety of
different languages to remain competitive in an international market’
Soraya Malik, Operational Training Manager, lastminute.com
‘We need people who have the ability to speak another European language
because a big part of our business depends on those kinds of clients’
Mark Perowne, Managing Partner, Kings Sturge (Surveying firm)
‘It is important to have people with language skills to maximise business
opportunities and to assist our clients in achieving their goals’
Salim Sonjee, Clarkson, Wright and Jakes (Solicitors and notaries)
‘English is not
‘While English is a major language, it only accounts for around 30% of
world Gross Domestic Product and is likely to account for less in the future.
Neglecting other languages means ignoring quite significant potential
Mark Davis, GDP by Language, 2004
‘Monolingual English speakers face a bleak economic future’
‘The competitive advantage of English is ebbing away as English becomes
a near universal basic skill’
‘The economic importance of other languages is growing’
David Graddol, English Next, 2006
Language needs of European companies
(ELAN survey 2006)
Needed by SMEs in next 3 years
Needed now by large companies
Languages and ‘vocational’ skills
Which company’s slogan is:
‘Parce que je le vaux’
‘I’ve been a hairdresser since I left school and set up as
a mobile English-speaking hairdresser in Limousin. I
soon got a huge clientele – people like chatting to their
hairdresser in their own language. We knew
hairdressing and computer skills were in high demand
What do these have in common?
• Motorway linking Northern Ireland and Eire
• Lisbon music conservatory
• Desalination plant in Cyprus
• Gatwick airport
Leisure and Tourism
World Tourism:
English to English 4%
Non-English to Non-English 75%
‘Although the majority of Germans (especially the under 50s) speak
English sufficiently well, it is still an advantage to have important signs and
information material in German. An increasing number of visitors from the
new federal states will appreciate some guidance in German’.
‘The French are reluctant to speak English’
‘Italians’ command of English is generally poor’.
Prepare web, print and/or signs in Spanish. Learn a few important and
common Spanish phrases.
Advice on marketing from VisitBritain website
• Diploma in Tourism and Hospitality Management
• Went to live in Barcelona for a year,
working in a hotel
‘Learning Spanish has opened up
international job markets to me’
• High level of interaction with the public
• Customers more likely to buy if addressed in own
• Increased multilingualism (tourism, diversity,
• E-commerce – new research
• Opportunities for international experience
How are languages
used in UK
Public services
‘Paramedics often don’t have the time to find an interpreter,
like a hospital does. They need information quickly and so
it’s great if paramedics speak the language of a family that
doesn’t speak good English’
Brian Goodwin, Ambulance Service Association.
‘It is critical that the faces people see when they come to our
reception or when we visit them at home, represent a mix.
It's also important that there are a variety of languages
spoken by our workforce. Someone might need a repair and
if their English isn't good, we can put someone on the phone
who can communicate with them. Clearly, all this improves
our services.’
Peter McCormack, Director, Dominion Housing Group
‘When dealing with Spanish and Latin
American risks, background information
is often only available in Spanish’
Adam, trainee underwriter with
Lloyds of London, degree in Spanish
and French
Only for the specialist
Types of job with languages
• Customer service - 1,637
• IT - 1,130
• Accountancy, banking and finance - 985
• Sales - 896
• Marketing - 352
• Secretarial and administration - 323
• Translating and interpreting - 114
Which languages?
German - 1,340
French - 938
Spanish - 507
Polish - 111
Russian - 98
Arabic – 47
Mandarin – 43
Lithuanian – 15
Panjabi – 7
Urdu – 6
Understanding what employers want
• ‘an international dimension’
• ‘ability to build relationships’
• ‘awareness of cultural differences’
• ‘team-working, oral communication, problem-solving’
• ‘commercial awareness’
• ‘discipline, work ethic, effectiveness’
What is Language Work trying to achieve?
• Increase take-up for languages 14-19 and into HE
• Provide extrinsic motivation for learners
• Increase understanding about the world of work and how
languages fit in
• Raise aspirations and broaden horizons
Keeping in touch

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