From education to employment

December column from the Director of CILT

As part of the ongoing work CILT is undertaking to engage employers more fully with languages, the Business Language Champions programme moved to a new phase this year: the Award for Business Language Champion Partnership of the Year 2006-7 was presented to Camira Fabrics (a producer of fabrics for the global interiors and transportation markets) with King James High School. It was a great pleasure to be able to present the Award to such deserving candidates at the National EBP Network Annual Conference at Novotel West London earlier this month.

The programme was funded by Yorkshire Forward allowing the 33 Business Language Champion partnerships to be supported by the Regional Language Network Yorkshire & The Humber and Education Bradford. The company held sessions in school and in-company using language-learning materials developed from authentic company documents. Camira Fabrics have worked in a similar way with several other schools in the Yorkshire & The Humber area during the year, communicating the message about the importance of languages to business success to over 600 students during the course of the year. A real Business Language Champion!

Highly Commended for their work with Brentford High School for Girls were Novotel Heathrow. The Hospitality Challenge run by Hounslow EBP, included languages for the first time in 2006, by bringing in the language skills of the staff at the hotel, allowing students to practise bedmaking in Filipino, napkin-folding in Greek and Panjabi, as well as French during (of course) a cheese-tasting. As an extension of this activity, over a hundred students took part a range of practical activities and in a mock job-application process in French and created a French-language CV as well as preparing answers to interview questions in French. They obviously learnt well: two students gained a two-week work experience at the hotel.

Also Highly Commended was a second Novotel: Novotel York with Selby High School; the hotel, under then General Manager Frederic Limousin, welcomed school students for a day of job-shadowing and role-play activities in French, including a gourmet lunch. This was followed up in school by discussions and presentations on the importance of languages at work, leading to an increased take-up of language studies for next year. Frederic, now General Manager of Novotel Leeds, was so impressed by the students seriousness in York, that he is now working with A Level Language students to do a marketing project together.

The Business Language Champions scheme is a fantastic way of demonstrating to young people that languages improve employability as well as opening their eyes to local career opportunities. I very much hope that these winners and all those involved thus far will serve as an inspiration to both students and employers in 2008.

Isabella Moore, Director, CILT

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