Brexit demand for languages

Surprising Ways Languages Are Even More in Demand Post Brexit

The impacts on the UK post-brexit are ongoing. But one of the key issues that has come to light is the language crisis that the country faces. With only one in three British citizens are able to speak a second language. There’s a constant decline in students studying languages at school. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for British companies to communicate and do business with Europe and the rest of the world. There are heavy economic impacts for the UK as well as concerns for future generations. As they’ll have to deal with the consequences of the lack of language skills whilst trying to maintain international connections. Employees who speak more than one language are highly sought after. Due to the fact that they bring skills required for businesses to maintain international relationships and trade deals.

Why Are Languages Even More In Demand Post Brexit?

The urgent economic need for foreign language skills

The world is becoming more and more interconnected and British companies do business all over the world. English is the largest language spoken across the world. But in order to communicate with other countries it’s crucial for British companies to have foreign language skills. But since Brexit the lack of foreign language skills has had a large impact on the economy, with research in 2017 estimating that the UK was losing out on £4.8bn (3.5% of the GDP) every year as a result of the language deficit. 

Businesses need employees who speak multiple languages in order to maintain the UK’s relationships with other countries and their global economic position. Due to the Brexit arrangements British companies doing business with Europe and the rest of the world may not be able to rely on employing EU nationals as much as they previously could, which can be difficult when only one in three british citizens are bilingual. 

Language skills are crucial to international business because they not only strengthen basic transactions between companies but also increase cultural understanding among clients. International and intercultural awareness are essential for companies to grow their economic strength and broaden their reach. Without foreign language skills it’s a lot harder to achieve this. For example having customer service employees who can communicate with international clients in their native language increases customer satisfaction which has a positive impact on the business.

British businesses are seeking out bilingual employees within all sectors to increase international relations. So if you’re thinking about learning a new language then this is definitely the right time to do it. You’ll drastically improve your standing within the ever competitive job market. Learn&Co offers first-rate language training for students of all levels.

The benefits of having employees who can speak a second language are not just as simple as being able to communicate with more people. Being bilingual strengthens key skills such as communication, critical thinking and multitasking, which are all highly desirable within any job. Another major benefit of having bilingual staff is that they have a stronger cultural understanding of foreign languages. When you learn a new language you don’t just learn the translations of words and grammar rules. You also learn about the customs and societal norms of different countries. This cultural knowledge can greatly benefit your business. As you can adapt your relationships with clients to make them feel more understood and appreciated. As you’d know, happy customers equals more profit.


What does the future look like?

The UK’s next generation will play a pivotal role in the global economy and within the increasingly networked world. Having multilingual staff gives a competitive edge to companies, and recruiters are already prioritising employing bilingual and multilingual people. This will only increase as the UK continues to do business with the rest of the world, but there is a huge language crisis within the UK, especially within schools. 

Britain is far behind the rest of Europe in terms of bilingual citizens, with over half of Europeans speaking a second language and in many countries it’s over 90%, like in Switzerland, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. Younger generations of Britons will need to increase their foreign language skills in order to keep up with the increasingly connected world that they’ll be working in. The UK is a key stakeholder in the global economy but the language crisis has put pressure on schools and institutions to encourage young people to learn a second language.


The school crisis

Even prior to Brexit, the number of young people learning languages at schools was very low. A 2016 review of English secondary schools found that only 34% of pupils obtain a good GCSE in a language. Unfortunately Brexit has had a negative impact on language learning in schools. This doesn’t bode well for the future generations trying to get into the job market. 

Parents have discouraged their children from learning foreign languages. They feel the skills will be limited due to the exit from the EU. This is contrary to what is actually happening. There is also a shortage of language tutors within schools since Brexit. If this trend of decreasing language learning in schools continues, then it’ll have alarming consequences for students in the future.

Speaking a second language is not only great for communication, but it also gives you better cultural understanding. This is very important when creating and maintaining business relationships. However, a survey in 2017 showed that 39% of employers were dissatisfied with graduates’ international cultural awareness. This lack of cultural sensitivity is a knock on effect of a lack of exposure to foreign languages.

Fortunately, there has been a push for language learning within the education systems in the UK. In England GCSEs require students to study one foreign language alongside other subjects. Scotland has the “1+2” policy. This aims to introduce every child to two new languages other than English by the end of primary school. In Wales the “Global Features” strategy aims to make Wales “bilingual plus one” and introduce foreign language teaching to schools. This makes things look more hopeful for the future of the UK economy. As more children are encouraged to learn a second language at school.


What language should you learn?

So as you can see, speaking a second language is a highly desirable skill that will definitely benefit you in the job market. But there are some languages more in demand than others. In 2017 the british council produced a report identifying that Spanish, Mandarin, French, Arabic and German were the highest ranking languages to learn. Knowing any second language is beneficial but these are most frequently used within international business so are more desirable to employers. Check out our blog post on the 5 languages most in demand in 2021

So languages are clearly more in demand post Brexit. Brexit has exposed a language crisis within the UK that has pushed the government to encourage school students to learn a second language. British businesses are having to rely more heavily on citizens for bilingual roles but the lack of foreign language skills is causing damage to the economy and international relations between companies. If you speak or are learning a second language then you’ll be highly desirable within all sectors of business, so keep practicing and perfect your skills.