Multilingualism and professional success
Flemish businesspeople are traditionally known for their multilingualism (three or more foreign languages) which is not surprising given our strong export-oriented economy. In order to achieve a high position in a company it is no longer sufficient to just speak a little French and English. Increasingly, multilingualism is the most important requirement in both domestic and foreign vacancies, as evidenced by the following;
PROFESSIONAL LACK OF SKILLS AMONG THOSE WITH HIGHER EDUCATION IN FLEMISH ENTERPRISES
KU Leuven Student Services Department (Hoornaert 1995) examined Flemish entrepreneurs to discover which were the greatest professional skill shortages and knowledge gaps in their graduate employees. It is worthy of note that the lack of knowledge of foreign languages was listed as the most important skill shortage. Other shortages are leadership skills and organizational talent, and a knowledge of business economics. The Department of International Business Communication courses directly match the demands of the labour market by combining business communication in different languages with insight into the socio-economic relevance of these languages.
LANGUAGES NEEDED IN AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
Which languages do companies need additional knowledge of now and which will they need in the future?
A survey commissioned by the European Commission (ELAN 12-06) of approximately 2000 SMEs and 30 multinationals in 29 European countries (EU and candidate countries) concluded that a considerable number of sales are lost due to the lack of linguistic knowledge shown by the staff and the intercultural problems associated therewith. Almost half of the companies surveyed therefore intend to place additional emphasis on the language skills and intercultural skills of their (future) employees in the near future. English, French, German and Spanish are clearly among the most needed languages.
SOME QUOTES FROM BUSINESS
"I have to say that I gained a great deal from my studies in the Faculty of Applied Economics. One very strong point of the Antwerp course is the language teaching. "John Bortier, UNIZO, alumnus
"Learn languages!" René De Cleyn, CEO, Bayer
"Multilingualism is an important advantage. Unfortunately, secondary school education does not provide the level of language skills we need. which is why I welcome the efforts of the UA Faculty of Applied Economics. "Luc Demeyere, Allen & Overy partner, alumnus
"Employers are increasingly demanding higher standards. The European recommendation, native-speaker knowledge of one language and good knowledge of at least two other European languages, is increasingly the norm for them. "Brigitte Grouwels, Flemish State Secretary for Civil Servant Affairs