On July 13, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), a group in the UK Parliament, has published a Manifesto for Languages, which states that the creation of a national recovery programme is of key importance to avoid losing £48 billion a year as a consequence of British citizens’ lack of linguistic abilities. The Manifesto has been turned in to most heads of each political party. The APPG stated that all parties should make a pledge to try to improve the condition of modern languages in the UK, focusing on language teaching and language learning from age 7.
A Combined Effort
The aim of the programme would be to ensure that every British citizen has had a high-quality language qualification by the time they finish secondary school. According to the Group, linguistic knowledge should cease to be considered an ability reserved for the elite and taught only in private schools. Universities should also be involved in the process of turning the United Kingdom into a more multilingual country by developing expertise in languages and culture. Already 50 businesses, organisations and educational institutions have stated their support towards the Manifesto. Politicians, on their part, should keep encouraging other business to join the cause by means of tax breaks for those companies or employers who are investing in language skills acquisition. The APPG is hoping that, as a consequence of a combined effort, the UK will lose the reputation that the country has as as poor linguists.
In Baroness Coussins’s Words
Baroness Coussins, chairman of the APPG has stated that the next government has to take definitive action to improve the UK’s linguistic skills, which is why the Group has been encouraging candidates to make an election pledge before the general election of 2015. She also warned all citizens that knowing a language does not only affect the lives of high-flyers, because in 2011 more than 27% of clerical and admin jobs could not be filled because of a lack of linguistic knowledge. Coussins encouraged all political parties to lift the APPG’s template to improve the language-related situation in the UK.
The APPG has gathered information about the impact that the lack of linguistic knowledge has on the UK economy. The findings suggest that businesses are having troubles filling posts because they cannot find candidates with the required language needs. Moreover, many companies are missing out in exporting their goods as a consequence of the language barrier. Coussins has added that, if certain measures are not taken, UK’s security, defence and diplomacy needs will be compromised.