Top international positions at multi-national companies are being missed by UK graduates because of a lack of language skills. 11/11/2011
Whilst many countries in Europe expect their students to speak several languages, regardless of what they are studying, UK graduates are falling behind.
The University Council of Modern Languages (UCML) recently published a document suggesting that initiatives to promote language study need to be maintained.
This was after realising that specialised language graduates and other graduates using language skills make a major contribution to the UK economy in the globalised world.
With many graduates being unable to speak another language other than English, it is also affecting Britain’s economic competitiveness, suggested Tim Connell, former director of language studies at City University London.
‘Students have to be so adaptable because the skill sets required by businesses are changing so quickly. What you learn in your degree is normally out of date within five years, so what students carry with them are their skills.
‘I think higher education is very modest about the transferable skills that it gives to students,’ added Professor Connell, who is also vice-president of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL)
UCML also stated that measures to widen the participation of modern languages were also crucial to prevent them becoming the preserve of the social, economic and intellectual elite.
‘No university should be producing graduates who cannot function at a basic level in another language. There is a feeling that 'English is enough' because it is spoken everywhere, but this is not true. Businesses are not looking for people who are fluent, but those who can do basic conversation and break the ice. It gives a good impression of that company,’ said Baroness Cousins, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages.
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