Wednesday, 24 January, 2018
Young people from St Ninian’s High School and Douglas Academy had the opportunity to engage with local businesses at the University of Strathclyde earlier this month. S3 and S4 students joined 128 learners from schools across the west of Scotland to hear from a range of business leaders who view language skills as key to the growth and success of their company. The Business Brunch demonstrated the relevance of languages in a work context and aimed to encourage pupils to continue with their language studies into the senior phase of their secondary education, and beyond school.
A teacher attending the event said: “Pupils were hugely inspired by all of the speakers. It was good for them to hear the many ways in which languages can be used. It was poignant that all of the speakers highlighted the fact that languages will be more important than ever post-Brexit and, furthermore, that languages are not only an asset in terms of job opportunities but help to break down barriers and unite people.”
One of the young people added to this and commented: “I learnt that languages are relevant to a wide range of jobs. I will definitely consider languages going forward.”
Jo Heinemeier from Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP, one of the exhibitors, stated: “Being able to communicate with people from other cultures will enrich your life and career in immeasurable ways. Foreign languages are the key to expanding your opportunities across the world.”
The event was organised by SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages based at the University of Strathclyde, in partnership with the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland (UCMLS). Companies attending included Shepherd and Wedderburn, Bank ABC, Keppie Design, Russian Centre ‘Haven’, GlobalScot and Radio Lingua.
Project Trust, The Open University in Scotland, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Food and Drink Federation Scotland and College Development Network, Investment 2020 and University of Strathclyde supported the event by hosting a stall in the Marketplace.
Marion Spöring, Senior Lecturer (Languages and European Studies) at the University of Dundee and Chair of UCMLS said: “The learning of languages is not only fun, but also essential for the future employment opportunities of our young people in Scotland. Languages set the foundation for varied careers, for future engineers as well as artists and in tourism, to name but a few.”
Fhiona Mackay, Director of SCILT said: “In these times of uncertainty, it is even more important than ever that we equip our young people with the skills they will need for life beyond school. We want them to be outward-looking and able to operate in an interdependent world. Events such as these highlight the importance of language skills and intercultural competencies in the world of work.
“The business leaders who speak at these events give of their own time because they understand how much these skills are needed and valued by employers and how vital they are for Scotland’s business community. This kind of collaboration is an example of how education and business sectors can work together for their mutual benefit so that we can support young people and help them develop the portfolio of skills that employers require in their workforce.”
Meaningful employer engagement and providing relevant careers advice are both key recommendations of Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy, 'Developing the young workforce'. This Business Brunch supported these aims by giving young people the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the role of languages in the business world. The targets laid out in the Scottish Attainment Challenge are about achieving equity in educational outcomes, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. Through hearing from a range of business leaders and interacting with employees, the aspirations of the young people who attended were raised.
This collaboration between schools and businesses supported Scotland’s International Policy to equip young people with international communication and employability skills that they will need in our increasingly globalised society and economy.
The event was one of a series of Business Brunches being held across Scotland in January and February 2018. For more information on SCILT’s 2018 Business Brunches go to https://www.scilt.org.uk/Business/BusinessBrunches/tabid/6095/Default.aspx.