Employers have called on the government to increase teaching of Chinese languages and culture in schools and universities to help businesses capitalise on the massive economic growth of China.
UK business leaders expect sales to China to be worth 10% of their global revenues, equivalent to £200bn a year, by 2009, making China the UK’s most important export market, according to a report from consultancy Hay Group.
However, they believe lack of language skills and understanding of the Chinese market is holding back Uk businesses, the report Waking Up To China shows.
The UK produces fewer than 500 graduates a year from programmes in which Mandarin is a substantial part of the degree.
As a result, nearly half of UK business leaders plan to recruit Chinese MBA graduates in order to boost their prospects, with companies calling for a China module to be included in all European MBA courses.
Deborah Allday, author of the report, said: “We are about to face a war for talent both in China and in domestic markets as companies scramble to recruit talented leaders and managers with an understanding of the Chinese market and business culture.
“The UK government needs to take a fresh look at the higher and further education curriculum in this country to determine the best way to make UK graduates and UK plc competitive in the global marketplace.
“This means not only introducing Chinese language teaching, but fostering an understanding of Asian culture and business practices.”