Linguists good for growth!


You won’t have missed it; the big news for about the past four years has been the economy. Whether it be growing, shrinking or stuck in a Life On Mars style coma as we all experience a recession the likes of which have not been seen since the 1970s, it has been a constant focus of several aspects of life recently. Overall, the news has not been great. Less jobs, less prospect for promotion, less growth along with higher living costs and higher unemployment. On one level at least, all of this doom and gloom has had people making sure that they are making the most financially sensible decisions possible. But, I am sure it would surprise you to learn that one of the most sensible financial decisions you can make is to learn a second language.

A recent report commissioned by several bodies including the CBI and the Education and Employers’ Taskforce has shown that having the ability to speak more than one language could have a serious effect on your prospects and your earning potential.

Based on a recent survey of cross-sector employers into levels of satisfaction with graduates, it may surprise you to learn that their biggest disappointment was that the graduates that are coming through do not have the foreign language skills they are seeking. It is widely recognised by several leading figures that the UK’s lack of foreign language capacity is something of an economic time bomb for the future, limiting our ability to do business internationally with the languages and the cultural awareness we need to be successful. What this research in particular shows, is that businesses are starting to feel the pressures of operating in a more globalised world and that they are really starting to realise a need for linguists operationally.

This priority need for languages amongst employers have led to a number of positive changes for the linguistically-able. Not only are multilingual people much less likely to be unemployed than their monolingual counterparts, but they also earn on average 2-3% more than them too. Whilst this might not sound a huge amount, when totalled up across the working life of an individual, this amounts to a huge amount.

Interestingly however, the report also outlines that HR managers do not look to multilingual candidates only for their ability to do business overseas. It outlines a list of transferable skills that are commonly found in linguists including listening and interpersonal skills, greater cultural awareness, empathy and understanding, determination and discipline and an ability to decipher, learn, understand and refer to complex bodies of information. These sorts of qualities mean that linguists not only add value through their specialism, they are also extremely good all round employees that will be able to deal with a wide range of tasks by applying their highly-disciplined, innovative and logical way of working.

So if employers needed a reason to employ linguists look no further, and for those of you with language skills, make sure that not only the physical languages that you speak but also that impressive list of interpersonal skills are amply-detailed on your CV.


More information on the report can be found at