Brexit – Everyone Speaks English, Don’t They?
The Language Skills Gap
Due to the free movement of citizens in the EU British businesses have become increasingly reliant on recruiting staff from other EU countries, with a second language, which enables them to trade on a global platform. Employing Europeans over British applicants has not only revolved around skilled workers but also the second language that Europeans have and that the British do not! More than half of the students across the EU study a foreign language while In Britain the figure is an embarrassing 5%.
Businesses success is reliant on communicating globally and having the language skills to communicate effectively with international clients is essential to trading. It is additionally more cost effective to recruit European applicant with the required second language than employ a British candidate who would need to learn the language until proficient.
In the lead up to Brexit, the migration of EU nationals into the UK has fallen to its lowest number in five years and the number of EU workers leaving will continue to rise after Brexit. This greatly affects businesses that recruit EU workers, where will these companies be without these workers, and with no one to replace them? How can Britain develop if it is unable to speak with the customers it wants to sell to?
But Everyone Speaks English, Don’t They?
To make this issue worse there is an common belief among most Brits that everything will be fine after Brexit, because “everyone overseas speaks English, don’t they?”. English may well be the world’s dominant language however, will this be the case after Brexit. The French language has already been nominated by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to replace English as the default language in EU institutions. With the 24 European languages in the EU producing a tremendous amount of translations may be more difficult than Macron expects. Brexit simply means that English will be downgraded among the EU membership bloc. English is currently the official language of the EU population, but after the UK leaves the EU this will decrease. French however, will possibly take a more prominent role as a lingua-franca along with Mandarin and Spanish, as the main languages in terms of number of speakers, are also likely to increase their importance as English begins to decline.
Which Way is the Wind Blowing?
Less than 50% of British people can communicate in a language other than English and foreign language departments in schools and universities across the UK are closing, there may be a small change in the direction in which the wind is blowing of the huge lack of of multilingual natives. At Liverpool English Centre we have seen an increase in the number of adults learning English since the announcement of Brexit. One reason for the decrease in languages being studied by school and university students but a notable increase in the percentage of adults studying languages as students no longer study languages as a subject as they do not want a degree or qualification. By contrast other academic subjects such as business or IT are seen to be far more useful when trying to secure their first job. A qualification is not necessary to prove you can speak a language, you simply speak it. Furthermore, languages are a ‘secondary skill’ rather than a core skill. When you combine these points it seems perfectly acceptable to avoid studying a second language as a degree subject.
If you are interested in improving your English language skills to take advantage of the language skills gaps in the jobs market then get in touch with LEC to learn more about your English language learning options. Our dedicated staff will gladly help you find the course and schedule that meets your needs.
Liverpool English Centre offers the following types of language courses: