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UK graduates fail to make the cut for international graduate jobs

by admin on November 7th, 2011

Lack of language skills in UK graduates means they are hampered when trying to find international graduate jobs

Graduates from UK universities are losing out on the top international positions because they are unable to speak a second language according to academics and business leaders.

There are serious concerns about the lack of language skills in UKgraduates, which was raised at a policy meeting at the Houses of Parliament on 19th October. They discussed the fact that the current education system is not doing enough to encourage graduates to study languages. Yet many countries within the European Union are expected to speak several languages regardless of what they are studying.

“No university should be producing graduates who cannot function at a basic level in another language,” said Baroness Coussins, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages, after the event, which was organised by the Industry and Parliament Trust.

“There is a feeling that ‘English is enough’ because it is spoken everywhere, but this is not true,” she said. “Businesses are not looking for people who are fluent, but those who can do basic conversation and break the ice. It gives a good impression of that company.”

With graduates unable to speak languages other than English, it is harming Britain’s economic competitiveness and University leavers are failing to win top places at multinational companies.

Tim Connell, former director of language studies at City University London, said life skills gained bymultilingual graduates on year-abroad placements were also attractive to employers.

Professor Connell, who is vice-president of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, commented that “Students have to be so adaptable because the skill sets required by businesses are changing so quickly. What you learn in your degree is normally out of date within five years, so what students carry with them are their skills. I think higher education is very modest about the transferable skills that it gives to students.”

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