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The cost of a lack of language skills

by Isabelle Ortiz

27 February 2014

Plurilingual education

According to the Guardian, the lack of language skills costs the UK £48bn per year.

For companies willing to trade internationally, “English only” is not enough and the difficulty to find skilled staff results in a loss of contracts, in recruiting locally seconded expats and more generally in difficulties to operate globally.

In all business areas, whether marketing, export, sales, but also in legal matters, language skills do play a crucial role.  The cost of communication barriers has been well documented in the ELAN study - Effects on the European Economy of Shortages of Foreign Language Skills in Enterprise which sought to estimate the cost to EU business of not having foreign language skills. The survey that has been carried out among almost 2000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) showed that languages on top of the wish lists of European SMEs, apart from English, were German, French, Russian and Spanish.  English is clearly an extremely important language for international exchange but will not be enough to face future challenges.

By 2030 the top world economies could include China, India, Japan, Brazil and Russia. Emerging markets are increasingly important for all European companies and adequate language skills make it possible to compete anywhere in the world (see Languages for Jobs report).

Language skills and linguistic diversity have a crucial role to play in the European economic growth and competitiveness. Does this mean that monolingualism will come to an end?

Please, share your thoughts on this article!
 

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