Does the UK have the Language Skills to Succeed?

Language Skills to Succeed

Seven years after the British government joined the rest of Europe by stipulating that all high school students must take a language to EBacc/GCSE level, now is a good time to look at how we, as British, measure up to our European counterparts when it comes to language skills, and if we have the language skills to succeed in the export market.

Does the UK have the Language Skills to Succeed?

Britain vs Europe

The reality is the following: over 56% of Europeans speak a second language, and 25% can speak three languages. The European work force is flexible and willing to learn when it comes to providing the language skills needed. Conversely, in the United Kingdom, less than 20% of adults say they know a foreign language at a good or proficient level. Moreover, the British are frequently accused of being arrogant when it comes to language learning, preferring to stick to the old adage that ‘everyone speaks English’.


Language Skills for Business

According to most recent research “Britain’s future economic prosperity and global standing is under threat because of an ‘alarming shortage’ in the number of people who can speak a foreign language”. With languages coming second only to IT in a list of desirable skills for job candidates, nearly half of employment recruiters say that speaking a second language to a good or proficient level gives a candidate the x-factor when applying for a job.

learning a new language

In addition, a growing number of business schools seem to be taking the view that a degree of fluency in at least one other major language is essential for the next generation of corporate leaders: “In a global business environment, they’re also skills that can make the difference between a good performance and a truly great one.”


International Markets

The government has not only made studying a language until 16 a requirement, but actively encourages SMEs to embrace international markets. Language skill development highly recommended in order to grow SMEs businesses through overseas trade. This embracing of developing language skills within companies has improved international trade, evident from recent UK Export figures. 2021 saw a 9.4% increase on all UK exports when compared to 2020. However, due to the recent pandemic, these figures are not necessarily a reliable snapshot of the current UK export situation.


There is still the question as to whether these businesses really have sufficient staffing and resources with strong enough linguistic capabilities. When it comes to translating websites, contracts and tenders, and providing customer service and communication in multiple languages, can we match those provided by our friends in Europe?


Develop Language Skills to Succeed

Are you looking to start developing language skills to succeed? Do you want a course designed to your specific learning goals? Cactus offers a variety of great business classes tailored to your needs if our Business Spanish vocabulary list is not enough for you. Cactus also offers general language classes online, across the UK and immersive courses across the world.

Are you looking to develop your language skills or of your team members? Are you looking to determine the number of hours needed to reach proficiency? Cactus Guide to International Success –  Levels and Progress Made Simple gives you the information you need to ensure your language training objectives are met. Download our free Guide to International Success.

Free Guide to International Success


Cactus Language Training Services

If you are interested in discussing your global language training strategy with the UK leading provider in language training, then get in touch to learn more about your language learning options. From face-to-face, online, blended learning and in company tuition Cactus Language Training will help you find the delivery and schedule that meets your needs. Cactus offer any language wherever you are and whenever you choose. Download our Free Corporate Brochure.

For information on any of our language training services, please call us on +44 (0) 1273 830 960 or contact us. Our multilingual team will be happy to answer any question you may have.

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Cactus language offers the following types of language courses:

Online language courses: online classes for over 20 different languages
Evening language courses: evening language classes for over 20 languages across the UK, including London
Language holidays: worldwide immersion courses in the country of the language
Junior language camps: immersion programmes for children and teens across the world
Private tuition: tailor-made and corporate language training solutions throughout the world