Global Businesses Need to Invest in Employees’ English Skills to Avoid Productivity Loss

December 28, 20158:32 am383 views

Global businesses that don’t invest in improving their employees’ English skills are missing out on major savings in productivity according to learning company Pearson.

New research from Pearson shows that English skills are considered key for learners, no matter where in the world they are applying for a job. 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 and about the same amount of people said they were learning the language to work overseas.

However, Pearson’s research suggests that global businesses could do more to develop their employees’ English skills. While 92% of global employees report that English is important for their career progression, only 7% of non-native English speakers in global companies believe they can communicate effectively at work.

As a result, businesses are missing out on crucial benefits to the bottom line: Pearson found that improved English skills can boost a business’ productivity.

On average, companies gained one working week per year, per employee. For a multinational business this means thousands of weeks per year.

Tas Viglatzis, Managing Director, Pearson English said: “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.”

See: Graduates face job interview jitters, no thanks to weak English skills

To help businesses reap the benefits of investing in employees’ professional English skills, Pearson is launching a suite of tailored learning objectives.

These objectives are part of the Global Scale of English (GSE), a granular scale from 10-90 that provides a far more precise measurement of a learner’s abilities across each of the four language skills – reading, listening, speaking and writing – in comparison to other methods which tend to categorise proficiency in broad bands.

The GSE helps employers understand the individual English capabilities of their employees and identifies the specific skills they need to perform their role successfully. The GSE learning objectives are rooted in practical everyday business English.

For professionals who wish to develop their English, the GSE learning objectives are a tool that can be readily used to plan a path to greater English proficiency. For example:

  • A Chief Executive, who faces complex discussions and problems, may want to strive for a GSE score of 75 in speaking to be persuasive and convince others.
  • A lawyer, who fulfils key responsibilities such as questioning witnesses during trials, would be advised to aim for a score of 68 in speaking to ensure questions are asked politely in sensitive situations.
  • A mechanical engineer, who takes readings and follows instructions, may want to aim for a reading score of 62 in order to interpret messages from diagrams and visual information.

Viglatzis added: “Now more than ever, English is the common language of multinational businesses and candidates compete in a global talent market. Having a global scale will not only help them to be more efficient, it will also give learners direction on the specific English skills they need to develop in order to perform their role successfully.”

Also read: Flip-flop English policy makes it harder for grads to land a job, say employers

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