The UK appears to be determined to remain a monolingual island race when it comes to embracing European business opportunities, new research suggests.
According to a survey of 2,500 UK employees by pollsters YouGov, 80% of people have never been offered the opportunity to learn a second language at work, despite EU expansion and tougher competition from European businesses.
This reluctance to offer language training perhaps explains why the UK was recently ranked bottom of the league table of 28 countries for language ability by CILT, the national languages centre.
Research by the British Chambers of Commerce has revealed that 20% of UK firms have lost business opportunities because of their failure to embrace new language skills.
The YouGov survey also shows that most business executives are uninterested in their dismal language skills. Just 7% of respondents considered language skills the most important factor to consider if their company relocated overseas.
French and German were still considered the most relevant languages to business success, each securing 20% support.
The survey was commissioned by online language training firm Rosetta Stone. James Pitman, UK managing director, said: “Our survey clearly shows that UK businesses are stuck in a time-warp in terms of language learning and are strangely apathetic about the situation.
“In 2007, the EU is expected to expand again and it is therefore shocking that 80% of businesses still refuse to offer any language training to their staff. It is little wonder they are losing business opportunities.”