Why Are Job Seeking Linguists So Upbeat?

As a graduate, one could be forgiven for descending into a pessimistic malaise more closely associated to fin de siècle Francethan how we imagined the beginnings of the 21st century would be. For a start, we still do not have hover boots.

But with the timer on the world economy microwave fast approaching ping and the increased amounts of cash graduates are now parting with in order to study, it is clear to see why most graduates aren’t all smiles. In fact those without degrees have been found to be up to 10% more positive about their prospects than those with them and almost two thirds of those who forwent a university education say that they do not regret not splashing out on the student lifestyle.

Yet in the midst of all this resignation, language graduates are on the top of the pile. Those studying languages are said to possess the most positive outlook when considering the job market. Experts cite several possible reasons for this, but the most common seems to be the freedom to follow the money and relocate internationally. Language students are estimated to be almost twice as likely to consider a job opportunity offshore than those possessing degrees in other disciplines making them incredibly attractive to multinational businesses.

The second most cited reason is that they are constantly made aware of their value by the press. Only this week, Education Secretary Michael Gove publicly recommended at the Conservative Party Conference that schoolchildren are taught a second language from the age of 5 seeking to reverse the trend of decline in the number of people studying languages at GCSE level between 1998 and 2010. In total there were 171,100 less pupils taking language GCSEs last year than a decade earlier.

Maybe it’s because as linguists we feel as though we belong to a fairly exclusive club, or maybe it’s because we are still filled with the ambition to leave behind theUKand go and work in sunnier, more prosperous climates. Whichever it is, let’s hope that the optimism of language graduates is not entirely unfounded.