Brexit’s silver lining – the demand for foreign languages

Category: Business

With the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit seemingly drawing closer by the day, as a UK-based company, we’re naturally concerned about what the future may hold. In our line of work, we’re very much affected by trends in international trade. Our customers include companies doing business abroad, who need their documents translating into an array of languages. So, what does Brexit hold in store for the likes of us? Is it all doom and gloom? Luckily, it doesn’t seem so.

While the news is full of stories about EU companies moving abroad, Brexit may create global opportunities. With businesses potentially needing to look outside the EU for business partners, this could open up demand for other languages – and not just European ones.

EU Recruitment

At present, many multilingual EU nationals hold posts at multinational companies in the UK. As such, they are a vital part of a company’s success, due to their abilities in international negotiations and customer service. Since the Brexit vote happened, however, immigration has fallen from 3.8 million to 3.6 million. While this isn’t a drastic drop, if immigration rules become a lot stricter after Brexit, considerably fewer multilingual staff will be able to be employed in the UK. This, in turn, means that companies will need to look for UK staff who speak these languages in order to fill the gap.

Thinking everyone speaks English? Not anymore!

At present, just 25% of Britons speak a second language, which is quite low when you compare that figure to the likes of the Netherlands where the comparative figure is 90%. With Brexit on the horizon, companies will probably need to look further afield than Europe to do business. Countries such as India and China have amazing trade potential, but in order to do business there, language skills are vital, which means that speaking Hindi or Chinese can make you a very valuable candidate.

Improving EU relations

It goes without saying that Brexit is currently having an impact on relations with other European countries. A good way to counteract that and prove you want to do business with EU-based clients/suppliers is to have multilingual staff. This will not only show you care but also improve partnerships and sales, too.

The most valuable languages

In previous generations of UK schoolchildren, the default second language of choice was French, followed by German or Spanish. Nowadays, though, it seems that schoolchildren will need to start learning a wider range of languages to prepare them for post-Brexit adulthood. The most popular languages are:

  • Spanish
  • Arabic
  • French
  • Chinese
  • German
  • Portuguese
  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Turkish
  • Japanese

In this way, perhaps Brexit might have a silver lining in the fact that we’ll finally have to ditch that typical British stereotype and start learning languages! And of course, if your company has any translation needs – please feel free to get in touch!



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