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Executives say languages are critical to businesses, but not taught sufficiently, survey finds

87% of polled executives in the UK and Germany report there is more than one critical language in use in their organisation.

Almost two thirds (63%) believe their employees need to improve their multi-lingual skills. But making this improvement would be a challenge without a step change in training, as 70% of respondents find that language skills are not currently taught to a standard sufficient for multi-national organisations.

The survey, which polled executives responsible for language training at large enterprises (500 employees) and was conducted for Rosetta Stone by VansonBourne, also reveals that 79% of respondents believe language skills are critical for business success and that they help:

&middot         improve relationships with customers (79%)

&middot         employee productivity (68%)

&middot         increase sales opportunities (72%)

– all of which have a direct impact on the bottom line.  A previous Rosetta Stone survey revealed that 84% of corporate learners believe language training increases employee engagement, this new data goes further in building a strong business case for promoting continued language learning in the work environment.

Donavan Whyte, VP Enterprise & Education EMEA at Rosetta Stone, says, “Communication is key to virtually every aspect of business—from acquiring and retaining customers to improving employee engagement and performance. At the most basic level, business can’t happen without communication. This is even more of a truism in today’s era of globalisation. Speaking the language of employees, customers and partners is fundamental to doing business effectively.”

Since nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents stated that they expect new employees to have better language skills in the future, employers will need to invest in more effective language training methods. The survey shows that organisations recognise this, with a huge majority (86%) stating that being able to deploy a single training platform that can be used by all levels of learners is of interest to them.  

The survey revealed other interesting data about the state of language use and language training in organisations:

Language use in organisations

The top three most critical languages after English according to respondents from the UK are German (26%), French (24%) and Spanish (13%). German respondents list English (92%), Spanish (6%) and French (5%) after German

Healthcare (21%), retail, transport, distribution and wholesale (19%) and computing services and IT (20%) are the industries that have the highest proportion of staff requiring language proficiency

95% of German respondents report that there is more than one critical language in use in their organisation.

Language training

Only around a quarter (20-26%) stated that language training is compulsory in their organisation

Nearly a quarter (21-24%) report that various types of training are encouraged but not provided at their organisation

The biggest language training challenges are identified as the length of time it can take (52%) and cost (46% of UK respondents).

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