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Friday, December 22, 2006 (read 983 times)
The Guardian: Is language a barrier for monolingual grads seeking work?by Erin
The Education Guardian recently published a thought-provoking article about languages and jobs: Language barrier blocks British graduates.
The article quotes Bill Houston, director of the undergrad international business programme at the Newcastle Business School. Commenting on the competition he sees for business jobs, and current conversations in the UK over whether to require students to take a foreign language - at any point in their education - Mr Houston makes a strong case for the importance of a second language in a European job search:
"As the demand for business graduates with language skills increases, the supply of British students with such skills has fallen. German, Dutch and French graduates are filling the gap caused by the UK's language drain."
Later he adds:
"It is not uncommon for European business graduates to be fluent in two other languages. One of our German partners sends students to us for a business programme then to Spain for a Spanish language programme."
What do you think? Would requiring foreign language study earlier in a student's career help? (C'mon, German and Dutch readers, you know you start early on those second and third languages.)
The article reminds me of the shock of my first experience selecting a intern for the Marketing department at don Quijote. As an American, newly arrived to Europe, I was stunned by the CVs I received - yep, from Dutch and Belgian and German and Swedish and Polish and other European candidates. In their third or fourth year at university, these students had at least 3 languages under their belt, usually their native language, fluent English, and intermediate Spanish (with many holding their own in a 4th language, as well). Most had already lived abroad for some period of time, while learning one or more of those languages.
Let's see… among my interns at dQ we find: 2 Dutch business majors, both fairly strong in 3 languages, a Belgian marketeer strong in 5, a German journalism student with 2 plus a splash of Spanish, a brilliant Irish marketing grad who spoke, well, English… and an American who did the same.
I'm passionate about getting my paisanos - Americans - to live, work and travel abroad, if only briefly, but those intern's CVs and this article show me it'll be challenge.
What do you think? Have you seen language skills be important in a job search?
My answer is yes, obviously.