Benefits of language learning

Languages are used in every sector of the UK economy, including the public and voluntary sectors as well as private enterprise. IT, Finance and Creative/Media/Marketing have been identified as particular industries where there is currently an above average or growing need for language skills.

A 2010 survey conducted by the National Centre for Languages found that employers rank language skills as second only to IT skills when they are selecting candidates. 43% of recruiters said that speaking a second language gives a jobseeker the 'X-factor' when applying for work.

Similar results came out of the 2014 CBI Employer survey. This found that nearly two-thirds of UK private sector employers see a benefit in having language skills in their business, for example to help in building relations with overseas contacts.

Employers also value not only the language skills themselves, but the broader skills and attributes which students develop alongside their language learning. Engaging with another language boosts international and cultural awareness, helping employees to interact smoothly and productively with business partners and clients from other countries.

Languages are also important at all levels of business. Firms operating on an international scale regard language skills as a "given" for senior managers, expecting them to think and act in international terms. But there is a significant language skills shortage in entry-level jobs too. A National Employer Skills Survey in 2011 found that 27% of vacancies in administrative and clerical roles went unfilled due to shortages of language skills.

Benefits of embedding language modules into another degree subject (Discovery Modules)

You don’t have to have studied a language to degree level to give you the edge when it comes to job applications. Different jobs need different levels of skills: fluency in another language is not always needed. For many jobs, employers look for people who can handle simple phone calls or build rapport using a few friendly phrases.

A 2013 report by the British Academy also showed that there is a particular language gap among graduates studying vocational or STEM subjects. Businesses need access to employees with cultural awareness and language skills as well as technical expertise.  So a language-based Discovery Module is a great way to give yourself the edge as a vocational or STEM graduate in the job market.

So if in the end you take a degree in a main subject which isn’t languages, it is worth building language modules into it as much as you can – and that’s easy to do at Leeds due to our Discovery modules system.