With the crisis that hit the worldwide economy over the past few years slowly getting better and the rise in student grades increasing, many employers have positively changed their perception when it comes to hiring. This positive change is to benefit fresh graduates from university.
In 2012 the number of graduates leaving with university with Firsts soared. According to figures, a staggering 64 per cent of students proudly graduated either a first or 2:1. However, this has caused some controversy as students now fear that their grades alone will not help them stand out from the crowd in the fiercely competitive job market. As a result students are now urgently seeking work experience.
There are a number of positive skills and career building attributes you can learn from an internship/work experience that will prepare you for the working world, these include: demonstrating effective critical thinking skills, demonstrating higher-order thinking skills, adapting to writing for different audiences in an effective manner, applying information and skills learned in the classroom to workplace situations, deciding whether a career in a given area is right for you in the long term, and developing project management, time management, and decision-making skills
Regardless of this news, there is some positive news for graduates in 2013 as employers are set to hire more graduates. According to High Fliers research graduate vacancies are set to rise by 2.7 per cent this year, compared to last.  This is brilliant news for graduates in the upcoming year.
Either as an employer or a student how much do you think internships can benefit students before contracted employment?
Every year at some point or another, we are all are concerned about our physical appearance – the way our hair looks, the way our skin looks or our weight. This concern is dealt with by going to the hairdressers, purchasing the latest skin care products or taking up a new exercise regime. The battle is constant for us to feel at our best, but when was the last time you were worried or even just thought about the strength of your brain?
The brain is the most complex organ of our bodies with its function to control the other organs of the body, a vital organ that without it we would cease to exist. As previous studies have proved knowing a second language keeps the brain sharper later on in life. As the brain plays such an important part on our body and lives it can make us wonder why are we not taking a bigger interest in trying to keep our brain at its best?
In a recent study in Sweden, Scientists studied young recruits at the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy who learned a new language at a vast pace. Participants involved went from having no knowledge of a language such as Arabic, Russian or Dari to speaking it fluently simply by learning the language over the short space of 13 months. 
Whilst observing what happens to the brain when a language is learnt in a short space of time, scientists did indeed detect some change in the brain. MRI scans were taken before and after the intense language courses were undertaken and show particular developments in the parts of the brain (both hippocampus and the areas of the cerebral cortex) that are associated with learning new information. The precise development of the brain was determined by the amount or lack of effort that was put into learning and studying the languages. Therefore those that took a greater interest and effort in learning these languages over the course of 13 months found that their brain had developed far more than those that did not.
Consequently “there is a lot to suggest that learning languages is a good way to keep the brain in shape” as said by psychology researcher at Lund University Martensson.
Do you personally feel sharper during or after learning a new language?
Why did the English speaker from Canada come to Germany to learn about North America in English? Sounds like the start of a corny joke, but many English-speaking students are flocking to German universities as a range of English language courses prove more appealing than those in the UK and the States.
Germany was recently named in an international league table as the most supportive country for overseas students. The appeal? English-speaking students never have to utter a word of German in order to complete their degrees.
As it stands, Britain ranks third in the same table, but risks losing this spot due to government policies making it harder for overseas students to study in the UK and to stay in the UK afterwards, whereas there are very few barriers for international students in Germany.
Tuition fees in Germany are significantly lower than the UK and far lower than in the US, where tuition fees can be as high as $50,000.
Germany is currently at the forefront of true internationalism in its education system, with many university lecturers being so proficient in English that an outside observer might not be able to tell who is a native speaker and who is not.
Since the cap on tuition fees in the UK has been lifted and universities can now charge up to £9000 per year, as opposed to a price in many German universities of 500 Euros per semester, will more UK-based students opt for an English-speaking degree from a German university?
It remains to be seen, although if you’re planning to trade in life in England for a German adventure, we’d recommend learning the language, as it’s a really valuable skill to bring home to the UK jobs market!
When it comes to language learning in the UK, the figures aren’t great. Less and less students are taking languages but we’re hearing more and more stories about the increased importance put on learning them. So where do we stand? I think that more needs to be done to encourage young people to study languages and there must be a clearer policy when it comes to languages in education.
Since 2004, studying a language at GCSE has been optional in the UK, however the new English Baccalaureate will only be awarded to students that take GCSEs in language subjects. Furthermore, there are set to be changes to the way league tables are calculated to encourage more students to take languages, and Universities like UCL will soon only consider applicants who have studied a language at GCSE level.
We are giving young people such mixed messages when it comes to studying languages. One minute languages are optional but then they won’t get the English Bac without them – is this a case of a bit too little, too late? With schools and students both unsure of where they stand when it comes to language learning, the current situation is too contradictory and I think that languages should again become compulsory to ensure the UK remains competitive and that British students get the best future job prospects.
As business becomes increasingly international, languages have become a crucial skill for employers, but we’re finding fewer and fewer British graduates with strong language skills as those that took their GCSEs once languages were no longer compulsory are now coming out of the education system. This needs to change if we want young people to have the best chance of finding a job and if we want British business to remain competitive.
What do you think?
The CBI has caused controversy this week by announcing that University students should pay more for their loans and tuition fees. However an aspect of its report that has been lost amongst this debate is its advocacy of boosting language learning.
In the CBI’s press release, its Director-General Richard Lambert said, “Business should engage more with universities, both financially and intellectually. More firms should help design and pay for courses for the benefit of the current and future workforce, and more firms should offer students practical work experience. In return for this extra investment of time and money, business will want to see more emphasis given to certain subjects, such as science, technology, engineering and maths. Languages are also seen to be important, and the Task Force argues that more should be done to prepare students for the world of work, and teach them the generic skills that will help smooth their pathway into employment.”
According to the report, many companies have already committed to helping the cause, pledging to offer more internships and graduate positions. Although that’s a great start, is it enough? Can more emphasis be put on languages when it’s not even compulsory to study them at school? What could be done to better prepare students for the world of work? And how should companies help design academic courses? Let us know your thoughts.
The credit crunch has caused a wide range of problems – but some are more obscure than others. A graduate from Monroe College in New York is suing the University, because like many graduates and experienced professionals worldwide, she hasn’t been able to find a job in the four months since finishing her degree.
Trina Thompson said that the University’s careers service had promised contacts and advice for job hunting but not provided them. She’s therefore asking for her tuition fees to be re-paid – all $70,000 of them.
This got us thinking – could we see similar lawsuits against recruiters?! Hopefully not – recruiting professionals will always be able to find positions for candidates, even during the tough times. It’s just a bit harder. But whether we can help or not, customer care should remain at a high level. If you’re looking for a job with languages, take a look at our latest positions here.
Where have all the linguists gone? Making modern languages optional at GCSE must be having a knock on effect, as Universities are now facing the effects of less students applying to study languages.
The University of the West of England is stopping courses in French, German and Chinese for the next academic year as they only received 39 applicants, compared to other subjects which saw a 14% rise in applications. This comes as Queen’s University Belfast announced plans to close its German department.
This is just another example of the damage that a drop in language learning is causing. In a few years’ time this will have a significant effect on the business world too, with a shrinking pipeline of linguistic talent. At the recent European Award for Languages held by CILT, Baroness Coussins quoted some interesting research from Cardiff Business School, which found that the UK loses £9 – 21 billion from lost contracts every year due to our lack of language skills. That’s a phenomenal amount of money that could be helping restore our economy, but with news like this, the situation doesn’t look like it’s going to be improving in the near future.