Which is the Best Language to learn for a Job in the UK?

We already wrote quite a bit about globalization, that the right language skills are essential in the globalized job market and can therefore give job seekers not only a competitive edge over other applicants but also result into better payment and a lower risk to lose a job.

While English is still dominating global trade and the Internet today, languages like Arabic are quickly growing in influence and demand. And taking a look at the expected top 5 world languages in 2050 we can assume that speaking at least two languages fluently will be mandatory.

This shift means that countries that are known for having a quite reluctant population in terms of language learning need to adapt their attitude to be able to compete in the global economy. Which brings us to the 2012 Education and Skills survey by Pearson and the CBI, a business lobbying organisation in the UK. According to the Education & Employer Taskforce the UK has the worst language proficiency in Europe. Yet 72% of businesses say they value foreign language skills, most importantly for building relations with overseas contacts (39%).

Pearson and CBI surveyed 542 organisations and part of the survey was the question which language managers in UK based companies find most valuable for employees to have.

While European languages are still dominant in the top 10, the languages spoken in the so called BRIC countries are clearly on the rise. So which is the best language to learn for a job, at least in the United Kingdom?

11. Korean 3%
10. Portuguese 6%
9. Japanese 11%
8. Russian 11%
7. Cantonese 12%
6. Arabic 19%
5. Polish 19%
4. Mandarin 25%
3. Spanish 37%
2. French 49%
1. German 50%

What we can see is that languages from the BRIC Nations, Brazil (Portuguese), Russia (Russian) and China (Cantonese and Mandarin) are all in the top 10. It also shows the importance of the Asian market with Korean and Japanese being on the top list in addition to the two main languages spoken in China.

What I found pretty interesting is the tie between Arabic and Polish in the midfield and French still scoring second place which can’t be just related to the love-hate relationship of the two countries. German, as the country still less affected by the economic downturn, has seen some significant growth in interest in the past months as we reported earlier this year. Spanish in third place is probably connected to the fact that it is spoken throughout Latin America except Brazil, of course.

What do you think? Any surprises for you on the list, which language would you want your employees to speak?

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