The latest CBI / Pearson Education & Skills survey of 542 organisations, employing around 1.6 million people, reports that as the UK competes ever more for business and talent in global markets, employers are looking to up-skill their workforces. Over the next three to five years, employers expect to need more people with leadership and management skills (a balance of +67%) and other higher skills (+61%), whereas for lower-skilled workers, they expect to slightly cut numbers (-3%). While half of employers (a balance of +51%) are confident that they will fill their low-skilled vacancies, they are not confident of meeting their need for higher-skilled employees (-15%).

Operating effectively in a global economy relies on the right language skills, but the UK has the worst language proficiency in Europe, according to the Education & Employer Taskforce (http://tiny.cc/EconomicCaseforLL). An overwhelming 72% of businesses say they value foreign language skills, most importantly for building relations with overseas contacts (39%). The major European languages continue to be the most in demand, but language skills geared towards doing business in China and the Middle East feature prominently:
German – 50%
French – 49%
Spanish – 37%
Mandarin – 25%
Polish – 19%
Arabic – 19%

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “Rebalancing our economy will mean tapping into high-growth markets in places like Asia and Latin America, so companies will need people with the relevant language skills to do business in these countries.”