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The National Center for Languages (CILT) is using a speech by Sir Digby Jones to remind the British public of the importance of language learning.

Sir Digby Jones, director general of the CBI, warned that a failure to produce enough high quality scientists and linguists would compromise Britains future economic success.

The Birmingham Speech

Sir Digby, in a speech in Birmingham said: "We must change our cultural attitude. We are an island race but must embrace the world and speak its languages if we want to be in the pole position for business." He went on to say: "These issues must be tackled by Government, teachers, careers advisors and companies - we cannot allow it to blight the UKs future economic success."

The speech comes after the CBI produced figures showing the number of teenagers taking A-level physics had plummeted by more than half in the last 20 years. The employers organization said A-level entries for French and German both fell by nearly a third between 1999 and 2004.

CILT Add Their Voice

The CILT is singing the praises of Sir Digby. Isabella Moore, Director of CILT, said this following his statement: "This is a long overdue acknowledgement from British business that language skills matter, as an important element of competitiveness for the country and for the regions. Our research shows that companies who are proactive in developing language skills can increase their export turnover dramatically.

"As all businesses know it is much more cost effective to obtain new contracts from existing customers, and that can only be achieved by developing relationships. With overseas customers, that means the ability to communicate with them in their own language."

She went on to say: "There is a need to demonstrate to students, their parents and their teachers, the absolute relevance of languages in today's international economy. Our young people should be able to compete on a level playing field and that means having the necessary language skills to work and succeed in complex multilingual and multicultural environments."

Brooke Van Dam, International Education Correspondent

Languages for 2012? Tell us in the FE Blog

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