Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard about the looming Brexit deadline. Whether we actually leave the EU in March is yet to be determined. After Brexit, only two EU countries (Ireland and Malta) will have English as their official language. So, perhaps now is a good time to learn a second language? But, which one?
According to the German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche, German is the 10th most widely spoken language in the world and one of the most widely spoken languages in Europe. There are roughly 105 million mother-tongue speakers and 185 million German speakers across the globe.
Germany is Europe’s largest economy and the UK’s most important trading partner. It’s also one of the largest political powerhouses in the EU. As such, UK companies will need to recruit German speakers to compete on the global and European stage post-Brexit, making graduates with German-language skills, at least according to the University of Birmingham, extremely attractive to major UK companies.
How Learning German Furthers Your Career or Business
Creates Job Opportunities in the UK
While some worry about career prospects after Brexit, learning a foreign language, like German, could actually make you a more attractive candidate and help create job opportunities. The UK already has a language skill deficit, which costs us roughly 3.5% of GDP per year. Most British companies rely on EU and foreign employees to build positive corporate relationships with other nations.
If Brexit restricts free movement, EU nationals may have to go through lengthy or expensive visa applications to work in the UK. As a result, it will be significantly harder for companies to recruit employees with language skills from the EU and UK citizens with such skills will be in high-demand.
Helps You Secure a Higher Salary
Markets with skill shortages are often candidate-driven and as such companies need to provide additional benefits and higher salaries to attract and retain the best and brightest. Given the UK’s current deficit in language skills, we can only presume that this situation will worsen after we leave the EU. As such, UK citizens that can speak any foreign language will be able to command higher salaries regardless of industry.
Makes it Easier to Move to the EU
Assuming that the Brexit deal ceases the current free movement agreement, UK citizens will find it harder to live and work in Europe. While some EU companies hire English-only candidates, most EU employees are expected to be at least bilingual. With Germany being one of the most commonly spoken in Europe, knowing German will greatly increase your chances of finding a job abroad and obtaining a visa or residency permit.
Ensures Your Company Can Maintain Strategic Trade Relationships
When it comes to trade, the UK’s relationship with Germany is important. Germany is the UK’s second most important trading partner, falling behind the US by only 3% of exports. Each year, the UK imports £60 billion and exports £30 billion in goods. Maintaining this relationship is crucial for any large business as well as the overall GDP. In a post-Brexit world, companies will probably need high-level negotiators fluent in German to secure favourable trade deals and protect this valuable relationship.
Helps Your Company Target New Markets
Whether you’re a small business owner or work for a large corporation, speaking German will help you to target new markets and attract business deals from outside the UK. Consumers and even other companies are more likely to purchase your product or enter into a contract with you if the information is in their own language. Companies, to reach a new audience after Brexit, need employees that can speak a foreign language.
Shows You’re Open Minded and Support Diversity
Companies want employees with open-mindsets who can work within a diverse team. Many people, especially EU citizens living and working in the UK, felt hurt and unwanted. Learning another European language, like German, shows a certain cultural awareness and sensitivity.
As Nelson Mandela once said “if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Learning German will not only benefit your career and company, but it’ll also help create a more positive atmosphere within our post-Brexit society.
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