CAREER DEVELOPMENT / NOV. 07, 2014
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Top 5 Highly Sought After Languages by UK Employers

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In today’s highly competitive job market, it is not easy for baby boomers to keep their competitive edge and stand out from the sea of equally qualified job applicants. However, the ability to speak a foreign language could be what hiring managers take notice of and as a result open doors for you in a variety of industries.

With so many firms rapidly expanding abroad and the forex trade growing to new heights, the demand for foreign languages has taken the worldwide job market by storm. Acquiring a foreign language could help you remain relevant in your existing position, ease a career transition and even expand your professional horizons in a different geographical location.

With 41% of UK businesses owners saying that knowledge of a foreign language would be beneficial to their company and 28% saying that it would help to build overseas contacts, foreign languages are in high demand among British businesses.

But which languages are highly sought after by UK employers?

According to CBI’s and Pearson’s annual educational and skills survey,  one of the most popular languages is Spanish whose demand saw an increase from 34% to 44%. Demand for Mandarin continues to soar, with more than a third of employers (31%) saying it would be useful to their business. Cantonese remained steady at 16%. Demand for Russian and Japanese has increased to 18% and 15%, up from 13% and 8% respectively.

#1 Spanish

Spanish is a tremendously valuable choice especially for those with a career in sales, marketing or healthcare. According to Forbes, Latinos make a lucrative consumer segment in the US, and many companies such as L’Oreal and McDonald’s spend a fortune targeting Latino markets and as such are increasingly looking for bilingual workers.

#2 Mandarin Chinese

China might not be the top travel destination for British tourists, but Chinese tourism rises every year. So it is definitely a must-have language for workers in the UK’s hospitality and tourism industry. Moreover, in recent years China was the top 3 country which the UK imports from, and the top 9country the UK exports to.  Mandarin Chinese, is the No 1. most widely spoken language in the world – it is the first language for 848 million people. Interestingly, only 1% of UK’s workforce feel they can speak Mandarin Chinese.

#3 Russian

Russia is the UK’s fastest-growing and third-largest export market outside Europe and North America. While more and more Russian companies, particularly those with an international outlook, have English speaking staff, not all of them speak English. Therefore, firms are desperate to hire candidates who have a good knowledge of Russian to fulfill business needs.

#4 Arabic

This is the fourth biggest language family in the world and it is the fourth most widely spoken language in the world. Six Arabic countries are identified in the UK’s top 50 export market list in goods, contributing more than £12 billion to the UK economy in 2012. Arabic is becoming increasingly important for UK trade as more British companies support the vast infrastructure work planned in the region.

#5 Japanese

Last but not least, Japanese is a vital language for trade, finance and banking, considering that the UK is the top destination for Japanese investment in Europe. Japanese firms in the UK currently have a workforce of more than 100,000 people. Car manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda and Nissan are the biggest vehicle manufacturers in the country. Now, with the Olympic Games taking place in Tokyo 2020, there are plenty opportunities for more trade, travel and tourism.

Speaking a foreign language that is relevant to your business or industry sector can be a determining factor for taking your career to the next level or even help you attain your dream to work abroad in a country you really love. These five languages could be the key to fast-track your career progression and the passport to a completely new life.

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