Midlands 'Let Down by Its Languages'

The Birmingham Post (England), October 28, 2003 | Go to article overview

Midlands 'Let Down by Its Languages'


Byline: Steve Pain

Language skills in the West Midlands are among the poorest in the country, according to research carried out by the National Centre for Languages. As a result, local companies are losing money and credibility with customers overseas. However, there are some exceptional organisations in the West Midlands, which are using language skills and intercultural awareness to improve their export business in a non-English speaking market.

The Language for Export Awards, to be held at the Aston University Lakeside Centre on Thursday, is designed to recognise the outstanding achievements of those companies.

The event is sponsored by Trade Partners UK -the Government agency which helps British companies get into exporting. It advises firms on how to enter overseas markets and provides help, support and information.

A recent survey carried out by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands found 50 per cent of exporting companies in the region said problems with languages had hindered their business, while 20 per cent said they had lost contracts because of language barriers.

The awards are aimed at rewarding companies and organisations that have excelled in developing language skills and services, which in turn bring economic benefits to the region.

Doug Mahoney, regional international trade director, said: 'It's encouraging to see how many of our top companies are now setting a strong example.

'Inward investment companies such as Peugeot and BMW are well known for their development of language skills but these are now being matched by UK companies such as IMI and GKN who count language and interculturalskills as key components of their global management philosophy. …

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