31 December 2016 10:40:38 IST

English language skills can help <br>fast-track your career</br>

(Image from Flickr/TEDxAmsterdam)

English knowledge influences compensation too, according to a Cambridge English-QS survey

Cambridge English and QS have released a global, cross-industry overview of English language skills at work, the findings of which are based on data from 5,373 employers in 38 countries that completed the annual QS Global Employer Survey, as well as insights from industry experts at Cambridge English.

With soft and social skills becoming increasingly hard for today’s youth, and while their technical skills may get their foot in the door of opportunities, people skills are what open most of the doors to come. Work ethic, attitude, communication skills, emotional intelligence and a host of other personal attributes are the skills that ensure holistic development.

According to the latest higher education report by FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and Ernst and Young (EY), 93 per cent of MBAs and 80 per cent of engineering graduates in India are unemployable, owing to the lack of connect between what they are taught in colleges and the industry requirements.

Key findings

Some of key findings from the survey titled ‘ English at Work: global analysis of language skills in the workplace ’, include:

~ Good English skills can lead to faster progression through job grades (50 per cent of employers) and higher salary increases (46 per cent)

~ 8 per cent of Indian employers plan to improve the English skills of their employees

~ Employers believe one in five top managers lacks the necessary English skills to meet job expectations or to succeed

According to the survey , called English at Work: global analysis of language skills in the workplace , in countries and territories where English is not an official language, 69 per cent of employers said that English is significant for their organisation.

Countries and sectors

On taking a closer look, the countries and territories that were least likely to say that English is important were Latin American countries and BRIC countries , though in India, 90 per cent of employers said knowledge of English is an important factor while hiring. This, the survey says, could be a reflection of the country’s historical connections to English-speaking countries.

But if one were to take a look at these numbers, based on industry requirements, construction and property, recruitment and HR services, and retail were the least likely industries to say that English is important. Employers also say that it is important to be proficient in all four language skills — reading, writing, listening and speaking. However, the most important of these is reading (in 12 industries), followed by speaking (in eight industries).

The survey found that in countries where English is not an official language, approximately half of all employers offer a better starting package to applicants with good English language skills. Good English skills can lead to faster progression through job grades and higher salary increases. The report adds that such better packages are common in countries such as Brazil, China and Chile. These countries are also the ones with some of the biggest English skills gaps, the report notes.

Correlation with salaries

Quoting Harvard Business Review , the report says “recruitment and HR managers around the world report that applicants with exceptional English language skills (compared to the average level in their country or territory) earn 30–50 per cent higher salaries.” The report also notes that there is a direct correlation between English language skills and economic performance — it is a virtuous cycle, with better English skills driving up salaries, which, in turn, creates more money to invest in further language training.

The report wraps up by stating that “changing technology and demographics could influence the demand for English”, but in the short and medium term “business demand for English is predicted to continue growing.”

English is the language of global business, and the globalisation trend is predicted to grow even further, the report notes, adding that “1.5 billion people are currently learning English, that is, one in seven of the world’s population.” China is the largest market for English learning, with an estimated 400 million learners.