Language skills critical to business success in global marketplace

The ability to speak more than one language is critical to succeed in business in Europe, Asia and Latin America, according to a survey of executive recruiters.

The survey by HR consultants Korn/Ferry International shows nearly 85 per cent of recruiters in Europe, 88 per cent of recruiters in Asia and 95 per cent of recruiters in Latin America agreed that being at least bilingual is critical to succeed in today’s business environment. Among recruiters in North America, that percentage was just 34 percent.

In terms of which foreign language capabilities are in most frequent demand by employers, recruiters in Asia and Latin America overwhelmingly chose English (88 per cent). Recruiters in North America selected Spanish (79 per cent), French (43 per cent) and Mandarin Chinese (30 per cent).

Korn/Ferry UK managing director, Giles Crewdson, said: “These findings suggest that although English remains the dominant language of international business, multilingual executives clearly have a competitive advantage.

“This will only increase with the continued globalisation of commerce and the growing mobility of executives from emerging nations,” he said.


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