From education to employment

Tuesday edition on languages

Foreign languages should be a “mandatory component” of the new Specialised Diplomas and be relevant to “current youth culture”.

Further, employers are urged to take greater responsibility to education while the Department for Education and Skills must ensure that schools, further education, parents and children are fully involved in the development of the new curriculum.

A report produced by Patsy Hodson, Assistant Head Teacher at Hesketh Fletcher CE High School and member of GoSkills, focuses on raising awareness of skills, with the “hypotheses” that the “employability gap” can be filled through the 14-19 curriculum.

Significant research highlighted in the report also demonstrates that schools are failing to prepare students adequately for the workplace.

With low language skills creating a negative impact on the UK and the majority of employers not identifying this skill shortage as a priority, there is a need to “raise awareness”.

Echoing recent concerns that British businesses cannot communicate in languages other than English, the report states: “[The UK is the] most complacent about the need for language skills; most unaware of the need for them; least likely to use the customer’s languages [and] least responsive to the communication needs of their international partners”.

Further: “There is real evidence that this reluctance not only undermines the UK’s ability to take advantage of the opportunities of emerging markets, but, it has already resulted in a significant loss in business from established markets”.

There should be a dynamic marketing campaign to raise awareness amongst employers, young people and parents, of the links between language learning and business opportunities.

International surveys repeatedly place UK businesses as least competent in other languages and unlikely to be able to compete as effectively as they might with emerging economies or markets.

The Government’s decision to remove MFL from the compulsory curriculum in 2004 not only limited the capacity of schools, FE and HE institutions to supply employers with linguists, but also restricted the possibility of many learners from experiencing the added value of learning a foreign language.

Peter Huntington, Chief Executive of GoSkills said: “Addressing skills gaps in customer service and languages is vital if the UK economy is to meet the challenges of the future, particularly in the context of the emerging economies in Asia and South America. We need to equip our young people with the skills they need to succeed in employment and in life.”

He noted: “Language skills are important elements in sustainable employability and this report confirms the need to embed them into the school curriculum so that all young people have the opportunity to develop these critical skills.”

To read the report, click here.

Keisha Nelson, Vijay Pattni.

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Related FE News articles:

Well Become Lost In Translation – 27/02/07

“English Is Totally Unsuited To Global Business” ““ 22/02/07

“Language Decline is Underestimated” ““ 21/02/07

UK Research Base Affected by Language Decline ““ 16/02/07

“English Just Isn”t Enough” ““ 12/02/07

“Colleges Help Migrants” ““ 07/02/07

“Employers Must Articulate Their Views” ““ 08/01/07

Lord Dearing Publishes Language Report ““ 15/12/06

Language Learning Needs “Urgent Action” ““ 28/11/06

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