Will Brexit Impact the UK’s Multi-Lingual Recruitment Market?

Chivonne Gray

According to the British Council, 38% of people in Britain speak at least one foreign language. Traditionally, European languages such as French, German and Spanish were taught throughout school. Now, other languages such as Mandarin Chinese, Arabic and Urdu are also making their way into the curriculum.

Perhaps this is a reflection of our changing international economy and a result of the ongoing Brexit negotiations. As well as impacting the way we travel and trade, could it potentially impact the way we talk?

Will Brexit impact the UK’s multi-lingual recruitment market?

Changing what we learn

The days of learning Latin or Greek are obviously long gone … but are the days of learning French and German over, too? Many schools – from early years education – are reassessing the languages that they teach in order to reflect the changing world. When languages such as Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin Chinese are fighting to become the most widely spoken, it may impact the languages we are taught in schools. This will create a new wave of homegrown, fluent speakers who can open up the markets of the future.

New markets emerging

With ongoing Brexit negotiations, the UK may (or may not) steer away from traditional imports from mainland Europe. They may look further afield to MENA countries or Asia in order to do business. This could open up new markets to your business that you may never have considered, such as oil, foodstuffs or textiles. In turn, this could mean that you have to pivot the language talent you have from, say, Dutch speakers to Mandarin Chinese. However, one language remains dominant in the Financial Services and Banking industry – German. And that’s unlikely to change.

Lockdown apps

During last year’s lockdown, language apps such as Duolingo reported increased downloads of up to 300%. Despite the fact that we couldn’t travel anywhere, languages apps were one place we were free to roam. And such enthusiasm may pay off further down the line if speakers become confident enough to incorporate their learning into their worklife. It also helps prevent any issues with “importing talent” from Europe if we have confident language speakers right here in the UK.

Remote working

Lockdown has shown us that we really can work from anywhere. So, any post-Brexit worries about visas and immigration may be allayed by the fact that you don’t actually need your language talent to be UK based. This is especially important for businesses which rely on recruiting multi-lingual graduates and ERASMUS students who have decided to call the UK their home. You could hire an Arabic speaker based in Berlin or a Spanish speaker based in Paris and have them work remotely for your business without worrying about their need to be in the country. Virtual working is the way forward!

If you would like help to source talented multi-lingual candidates for your business, I would love to help you find high calibre candidates. Click here to see my details and get in touch.


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