Labour Market Intelligence on Languages and Intercultural

Labour market intelligence
The current job market for graduates with
languages and intercultural skills
Research report published
Labour Market Intelligence on Languages
and Intercultural Skills in Higher Education
Authors: Sean Mulkerne, Anne Marie Graham
Published by UCML: June 2011
Purpose of the research
The research aimed to establish
• The level of demand for various languages
• The sectors where languages are required
• Skills that are required in addition to
languages and intercultural skills
Research methodology
• Tracking and analysis of job postings on major
employment websites
• Survey of recruitment agencies
• Interviews with employers in a variety of
Languages requested
The five languages most in demand from
employers are (in order of popularity):
• French
• German
• Spanish
• Italian
• Dutch
Languages requested (2)
Russian, Mandarin, Arabic, Japanese also
The total range of languages requested in less
than two months was extensive – over 25
Up to 4% of all vacancies advertised online
required skills in another language
Where is the demand?
The sector most likely to request language skills
was Sales & Trading
Other sectors:
• Finance
• IT & Technology
• Administrative
• Project management
Where is the demand? (2)
The majority of jobs were in London and the
South East
Other pockets of activity in major commercial
regions of the North West and the Midlands
Many vacancies are available outside of the UK
Language expertise required
Employers are looking for advanced foreign
language skills that can be applied in a business
Highly competent linguists but not necessarily
translators or interpreters
Languages – but not in isolation
Languages are an important part of the overall
skills package – valued alongside:
• the ability to communicate with colleagues
and clients
• teamworking
• leadership skills
Added value of languages
Graduates with language skills were perceived
as having relationship management and
intercultural awareness
These ‘added value’ skills give graduates with
languages the ability to
• work in a diverse team
• understand other cultures
Added value of languages (2)
Employers value language skills in graduates
They suggest an ability to learn new skills and
adapt to new surroundings
They are generally associated with valuable
international experience
Economic benefits of languages
English is not enough
• 75% of the world’s population do not speak
• English accounts for only 29% of language use
on the internet
Economic benefits of languages (2)
• UK only holds a trade surplus with other
English speaking countries
• Where we do not speak the same language,
we buy more than we sell
• Export businesses that proactively use
languages achieve on average 45% more sales
Economic benefits of languages (3)
• Underinvestment in language skills amounts
to a 3-7% tax on British exports
(Prof. J. Foreman-Peck, Cardiff Business School)
• Current cost estimated at 0.5-1.2% GDP
• Lack of language skills dissuades businesses
from entering new markets (CBI 2010)
Economic benefits of languages (4)
Multinationals and SMEs all need languages – only
27% of employers have no need for languages
(CBI 2011)
Employers are not always explicit about their
language needs – they see languages as part of a
wider skills package
Graduates with a language and international
experience will have ‘an edge’
“Learning a foreign language not only enables people
to interact but it also provides an insight and
understanding into different customs and cultures. Over
half of our trade is with other countries in the European
Union, and most of it is in countries where English is not
the first language. [Language] learning is vital to the
continued success of British business”
Roland Rudd, Chairman, Business for New Europe
Supply of language skills
• Languages are optional in 4 out of 5
maintained schools
• In the majority (over 60%) of schools, less
than 50% of pupils study a language in Key
Stage 4
• In 2009/10, 2.5% of university students were
studying a language
Conclusions – the skills gap
Demand outstrips supply for language skills
Where employers can’t find language skills in
the graduate population, they are forced to
recruit from overseas
UK graduates’ competitiveness on the global
market is hampered
Conclusions – the value of
languages in higher education
The introduction of higher tuition fees in
2012/13 increases the need for value for money
from higher education courses
Language study, and the related knowledge,
intercultural competence and employability
skills it develops, offers a good return on
undergraduate investment
Conclusions - the value of
languages in higher education (2)
“If higher education is expected to produce more
international and employable graduates across
all disciplines, then the research shows that
language and intercultural skills will contribute
to the development of this calibre of graduate.”
Labour Market Intelligence on Languages &
Intercultural Skills in Higher Education (UCML, 2011)
Conclusions - employability
Languages and intercultural skills are still in high
demand from a wide range of employers
Active language skills, that can be applied in a
real-life context, are particularly valuable
Employers place a high value on a period of
study or work abroad
Conclusions – which languages?
The languages most in demand are those of our
biggest trading partners in Europe
We are teaching the right languages, but we
need to expand the range and number of
languages we teach, and the numbers of
students acquiring those languages
“Languages continue to be critical to the success
of the UK, and we are indeed still learning the
right languages. However, the numbers of those
learning languages must be increased to ensure
the continued demand can be met”
Labour Market Intelligence on Languages &
Intercultural Skills in Higher Education (UCML, 2011)
Recommendations - research
1. Track the job market every two years
2. Extend the analysis of employment websites
and continue to compare the percentage of
jobs available for graduate linguists
3. 3 month minimum period for research
4. Commission research into trends in particular
Recommendations - HEIs
5. Work across institutions to integrate
languages in employability and
internationalisation strategies
6. Encourage graduates to demonstrate the
value of languages and related skills on job
applications, even if demand for language
skills is not made explicit by the recruiter
Recommendations – HE
7. Continue to track HESA data to measure
trends in graduates studying language skills
8. Higher education to work with business to
further develop key messages about the
value of languages and intercultural skills

similar documents