Linguistic Skills Urgently Needed: Experts Demand Vocational Training for Young People

Young people in the UK are being denied the opportunity to learn a second language due to a severe lack of language education programs available at further education colleges. This shocking news, according to a recent report by the British Academy, highlights the fact that language education is becoming a postcode lottery in the country. The report shows that just half of the 204 further education colleges in the UK offer language education, and the situation is even worse in England, where only 70 out of 160 FE colleges teach a modern foreign language. In some regions of England, the report found “next to no” language teaching.

This dire situation is being called out by business groups and language experts, who are urging the government to make language education a core part of vocational training. With the UK looking to export more, grow its economy, and equip its young people with the skills they need to succeed in the interconnected jobs of the 21st century, it’s imperative that the government take immediate action to address this problem. The chair of the all-party parliamentary group for modern languages, Jean Coussins, said that the government needs to create a better strategic framework and funding for languages to encourage FE colleges to invest with confidence.

Eddie Playfair, senior policy manager at the Association of Colleges, added that colleges would love to offer more language courses but need more investment and more vocational qualification options to do so. Robert West, the head of education and skills at the CBI, noted that the increase in employer demand for foreign language skills in recent years highlights the importance of language education for young people, and Peter Aldous MP, the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on further education and lifelong learning, stated that for the UK to remain competitive globally, the government must ensure future generations have the ability to communicate with entrepreneurs across the world in their native language.

In conclusion, language education is critical to increasing the UK’s global competitiveness and ensuring young people have the cultural awareness they need to succeed in their careers. The government must take urgent action to address the regional disparities and cold spots in language education and invest in vocational language training at FE colleges. The future of the UK depends on it!

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