Why businesses should invest in language training

by John Hilton11 Dec 2015
L&D Professional recently spoke to Alicia Gleesn, HR Director of Crown College, about the business benefits of providing language training.
It involved having one of their trainers with a Vietnamese background work with their college in Perth in developing a 40-week training course to teach Vietnamese to Crown’s hosts.

“They are now conversing after a 40 week program. They are not fluent in Vietnamese but they are certainly able to converse and talk about the business matters with the Vietnamese players on the floor,” Gleeson said.

This has resulted in a high engagement by both the employees and the customers, she added.

“We’ve actually made decisions based on the fact that we now have a group of employees who engage with customers in the way customers feel comfortable being engaged with.”

In fact, language training is absolutely crucial for all global businesses, according to new research by Pearsons.

"It's in everyone's interest to ensure that learning a language isn't seen as just a 'training opportunity', but a solid investment in personal growth and career development, said Tas Viglatzis, Managing Director, Pearson English.

In particular, the research found that global businesses that don’t invest in improving their employees’ English skills are missing out on major savings in productivity.

The results indicated that communications skills are key for employees no matter where in the world they are applying for a job. At present, around a third of learners in global markets such as Asia, Europe and South America are learning English to apply for a job in their own country.

Additionally, about a third said they were learning the language to work overseas.

The research found that despite 92% of global employees claiming that English is important for their career progression, just 7% of non-native speakers in the global companies believe they can communicate effectively at work.

Another notable result was that English skills improved the global businesses productivity to the tune of one working week per year, per employee, on average.

This adds up to thousands of weeks per year for a multinational business.