It is common knowledge that English has become a lingua franca all over the world. In fact there are now more non-native than native speakers of English, perhaps this is due to its dominance in the world of international business and science where the majority of companies use English in their daily activities. The use of English in the workplace internationally is the subject of the new Cambridge English at Work Report.
English at work: global analysis of language skills in the workplace uses data from over 5,300 employers in 38 countries to provide an overview of English language skills at work and addresses questions relating to how English is used at work, what the importance of English language skills is and differences between countries and industries.
Unsurprisingly, the report found that English language skills are considered important for the majority of employers. In general terms, 69% of employers in countries where English is not an official language said that the importance of English is significant. This figure is considerably higher in Spain where 81% of employers stated that English is considered a significant skill.
The report also looked at the role of English at work by industry. At the top, 89% of employers in the aerospace/defense industries reported that English is significant whereas just over half reported it is useful in the construction/property sectors.
Employers were also questioned about the importance of the four English language skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) that were considered most important by businesses. It was found that although employers appreciate a high level of proficiency in all areas of English, there were clear differences in the value placed on each skill. For example, 43% of businesses thought that reading was the most important skill while 35% placed more value on speaking. This difference may be due to the fact that in certain companies or certain roles, employees may be expected to use one form of communication more frequently. For example, writing skills might be highly valued in multi-national environments where colleagues can’t meet in person due to distance and working across time zones and need to be able to communicate clearly and concisely by email.
It was also found that employees with good English language skills were likely to be offered greater benefits (salary, progression etc) than those without.
This report reaffirms the fact that English language skills are advantageous for employees and highlights that this is especially true in Spain. Cambridge English qualifications provide the means for employees to demonstrate their English language skills to employers and the way that results are now reported with separate marks for each of the skills provide employees with a simple way of seeing where their employees’ language competencies lie.
The range of Cambridge English exams offers possibilities to employees whatever their level of English is, whether they study general English or business English. Tests such as the BULTATS (Business Language Testing Service) provide a way for companies to access their employees’ English language competencies in an accurate, fast and economical way.
Finally, the Cambridge English recognition database provides candidates a useful way of checking where their Cambridge English qualification is recognized (more than 20,000 institutions, companies and universities).
If you would like to download the full report you can do so here.