The Dangers of a Monolingual Market

Chivonne Gray

How we communicate with each other is an essential part of everyday life. We tell our partners we love them at the end of a phone call, we encourage our children to do their schoolwork, we check in and catch up with our friends.

Communication is at the heart of the business world, too. Not only in the day-to-day of working life, but in the global market of sharing ideas or trading materials. Increasingly, in this global market, the English language is no longer the major player it once was. Mandarin Chinese and Spanish have overtaken English and are more widely spoken languages.

As the UK leaves the EU, it’s so important that our access to the global market remains open and viable. To do this, we need to really focus on educating our young people, from primary school age, in other languages that will benefit them in the future. Being able to speak fluently in something other than their mother tongue will serve future generations well.

Our hangover from the British Empire has meant that our schooling system has been somewhat ignorant of European and Asian languages. How often have you heard tourists shout and point or insist that the locals “speak English anyway”?

We can no longer sit back and hope that European, Arab and Asian countries will be clamouring to learn English. Modern business is conducted in a number of languages: from Hindi to Tagalog, from Arabic to Russian. If Britain is to not only survive but thrive in the future, we need to be able to communicate effectively.

Already in Scotland, we have seen the that languages such as French, German and Dutch are highly sought after as European companies decide to open up UK branches of their operations. Translation roles are also becoming increasingly prevalent therefore the need to not only be proficient but accurate in understanding the nuances of speech is crucial.

Statistics show that the UK loses about £48 billion in potential revenue every year because of a lack of language skills and cultural awareness in the workforce – i.e. we assume everyone else can speak English.

This means that one of the biggest challenges facing the UK economy now is a linguistic skills shortage. More often than not, funding is provided to develop technical skills training. But the UK business landscape also requires professionals with language skills to make connections in fresh markets.

But more than just speaking the language, this next generation of workers will need to understand the cultures of new overseas contacts to negotiate and seal deals. Investment in this crucial soft skill is needed.

The burgeoning international economy includes emerging markets such as China, Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia and Vietnam. And, despite the Brexit furore, the UK will also still have key trading partners inside the EU.

Language skills are so lucrative.

If you are fluent in languages such as Spanish, French, German or Dutch, I could help you take the next step in your career. I am highly experienced at placing multi-lingual candidates. Click here to drop me an email and discuss how you can put your skills to use.

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