From education to employment

New Report Shows Language Is Key To Success

A new report published by West London Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has revealed that a large number of workers at Heathrow Airport are keen to learn new languages. Many employees feel that improving their language skills would help them perform better in their jobs, highlighting an important skills gap for the LSC and employers to plug.

A Diverse and Busy Environment

Every year, 65 million passengers of all nationalities pass through Heathrow, making it one of the most culturally diverse workplaces in the world. Its combined staff of 70,000 people also makes it West London’s biggest single employer, and the LSC commissioned the report ““ “Heathrow Talks to the World” ““ in order to identify skills needs and help to address them.

A survey of employees showed that 27 different mother tongues are spoken, with Punjabi topping English as the most frequently used first language. In total, the staff at Heathrow speaks 45 different languages to a varying level of competence. This is not surprising, when considering that the sub-region of West London is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse places in the world, with up to 32% of the population born outside the UK. This situation represents both an opportunity and a challenge for the LSC and Heathrow employers.

Build on Solid Foundations

On the one hand, there is a need tap more successfully into the existing well of language skills in the area. This means ensuring that recruitment processes do not exclude people with limited English, and doing more to help employees improve their English when they are working. At the same time, employees from all backgrounds should be helped to learn new languages and develop language skills.

According to Peter Pledger, Executive Director of West London LSC: “Harnessing the language and cultural diversity skills of a workforce is an essential element for continued success of a business ““ if we don”t get languages right, we will lose money. And this does not just apply to Heathrow – it also applies to every business with a diverse workforce.”

The top three languages Heathrow staff would most like to learn are: French, Spanish, and German. FE News would like to wish them Bonne Chance, Buena Suerte, and Viel Glück in mastering them all successfully.

Joe Paget

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