Lack of foreign-language skills ‘threatens the UK economy’
MPs launch a 'manifesto for languages' to avoid damage to Britain's international reputation
Monday 14 July 2014
The UK’s economy will suffer and young Britons will be unable to compete for jobs internationally unless the nation’s poor reputation in foreign tongues can be shifted, MPs warn as they launch a “manifesto for languages”.
An All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) report calls for a “national recovery programme” aimed at boosting the number of people with a second language – saying that without a “step change” in the nation’s ability in languages, the economy will suffer and the UK’s international reputation will be damaged.
The MPs are encouraging all political parties to make a commitment in their manifestos for next year’s general election to improving the nation’s language skills.
The number of students taking language degrees is at a record low, with 44 universities scrapping courses since 2000, their report says.
It also points to evidence that only 9 per cent of English 15-year-olds are competent in their first foreign language beyond a basic level.
High-quality language learning should be available for all children from the age of seven, with a goal of all pupils gaining a good language qualification by the end of secondary school, the MPs say.
Businesses and employers should also be involved in improving language skills, and there must be a commitment to “maintaining and developing UK expertise in modern languages and cultures in university language departments,” the APPG said.
Baroness Coussins, a crossbench peer and chair of the APPG said: “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.”
Ian Bauckham, president of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Schools cannot solve this problem alone. We are supporting this approach because it includes employers, political parties and universities, all making a commitment to address the issue,” he added.
A Department for Education spokesman said it was driving a “languages revival” after “years of decline”, making it compulsory for children to learn a language from seven to 14, and will spend £350,000 on improving languages teaching over the next year.
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Russian hack of President Obama's emails worse than previously admitted
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Nepal earthquake: US Pastor Tony Miano sparks outcry by suggesting Nepalis should convert and not rebuild their 'pagan shrines'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...