A group of British politicians have issued a report on foreign language teaching in the United Kingdom, and have suggested that the situation is "serious" and that there needs to be a massive change in government policy. It is estimated that the UK is missing out on over £50billion a year in lost contracts because of the poor foreign language skills of employees.
Just 9% of pupils in schools in England had a basic mastery of French, which is the most commonly taught language in high schools. This compares with an average of 42% in schools across Europe.
Baroness Coussins, who is chair of the All Parliamentary Language Group told Unique Languages:-
""The UK economy is already losing around £50bn a year in lost contracts because of a lack of language skills in the workforce.
And we aren't just talking about high-flyers: in 2011 over 27% of admin and clerical jobs went unfilled because of the languages deficit."
She added that: ‘The next government will need to take clear, urgent and coherent action to upgrade the UK’s foreign language skills. Otherwise our young people will continue to fall behind their European and global peers in education and employability; our export growth will be stunted; our international reputation will suffer and our security, defence and diplomacy needs will be compromised.
The Government responded by saying that "we are making it compulsory for children to learn a foreign language from age seven to 14, a move supported by 91% of respondents to our consultation on languages in primary schools."
A spokesperson for Unique Languages responded to the report by saying that it was nothing that had not been heard before: "We spend so much time seeking to persuade businesses of the benefits of language training. We are happy to work with business and the government to get students fluent in foreign languages, but it needs strong and consistent investment and until organisations see that, then the British economy will continue to lose these lucrative contracts."
In addition, Unique Languages has announced its' full support of the All Party Parliamentary Group's Manifesto for Languages, which calls on the Government to make wholescale changes to foreign language education in the United Kingdom.
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