The world is becoming a big market place with globalisation. Countries are trading with each other and English is the chosen language for effective communication between these. No wonder that 1 billion people worldwide are learning English. This proves the growing need to understand the language.

Executives in charge of multinational companies such as Heineken, Samsung and Renault believe that over 50% of their workforce will need to speak English, soon.

The ability to use English in the workplace has several advantages. Companies who deal in international business place a huge emphasis on people who speak English easily, and these are highly regarded as an asset for the organisation. Your knowledge of English can be the only factor that determines you being hired instead of other candidates. English not only permits effective communication with international clients, but it also allows you to aspire to higher salaries and gives you the bonus of an increase chance of climbing the corporate ladder at a faster rate.

You’re at an advantage over your peers because you’re able to investigate relevant information related to your work. Fifty percent of the information over the internet is written in English.

50% of the information over the Internet is written in English.


Cambridge English published a global analysis of language skills in the workplace report in 2016. The findings are based on data from the annual QS Global Employer Survey and insights from industry experts.

This report presents a country-by-country comparison of English language skills in the workplace. Countries and territories with survey responses from at least 20 employers have been included in this analysis.

There were:

36% of responses from employers in high income countries and territories

63% of responses from employers in middle income countries and territories

0.1% of responses from employers in low income countries and territories.

Not classified: 0.9%.

The Industries included in this report varied:

Consulting / Professional Services, IT / Computer Services, Manufacturing / Engineering, Construction / Property, Financial Services / Banking

Pharmaceuticals / Biotech & Healthcare, Recruitment / HR Services

Public Sector / Government / Not-for-profit, Energy, Electronics High Technology

Transportation / Distribution, Travel / Leisure / Hospitality, FMCG

(Fast Moving Consumer Goods), Media / Entertainment & Arts

Retail, Law, Telecoms, Metals / Mining, Aerospace / Defence, Utilities.

The Key findings were the following:

English is immensely important wherever you are in the world. In countries and territories where English is not a native or official language, over two thirds of employers (69%) say that English is important for their business.

In the countries and territories where English is not an official language

11% said that English is the main language used in their business

14% said That English is extremely important in their organisation

18% said that English is very important

26% important

23% not very important

6% not important.

Findings by country and territory

English is important for over 95% of employers in many countries and territories where English is not an official language, such as Belgium, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland.

The countries and territories least likely to say that English is important were:

• Latin American countries: Brazil, Chile and Venezuela. On the other hand

Colombia, Argentina and Mexico considered English important to some degree.

• BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia and China are all among the five countries and

territories least likely to say that English is important.

The percentage of employers that said English is significant for their organisation per country is as followed:

100% Germany, Portugal

99% Malaysia

98% Singapore

97% Lithuania

96% Switzerland, Italy

91% Hong Kong

90% India, Denmark, Saudi Arabia

88% Ukraine

87% Peru, Indonesia

85% France

82% Egypt

81% Spain

80% South Korea

79% Iraq

78% Mexico

76% Taiwan

65% Colombia

64% Japan, Kazakhstan

63% Brazil, China, Russia

56% Venezuela

48% Chile.

Findings by industry

In countries and territories where English is not an official language, the industries least likely to say that English is important (with less than two thirds of employers saying that English is significant for their organisation) were:

• Construction and Property

• Recruitment and HR Services

• Retail.

The more likely were:

  • Aerospace/defence
  • Law
  • Energy
  • Telecoms
  • Transportation
  • Manufacturing
  • Electronics
  • Travel/leisure/hospitality

Large enterprises (with more than 2,500 employees) were most likely to say that English is important. However, there is surprisingly little variation. English is important to at least two thirds of all employers across all organisation sizes.

Employers say it is important to have proficiency in all four language skills

(reading, writing, speaking and listening). However, the most important language skill is reading (in 12 industries), followed by speaking (in eight industries).

Findings by country and territory

There are no strong regional patterns regarding the skill which is most important to employers. For example:

• Europe: Reading is the most important skill for approximately half of all the

employers in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Portugal, Russia and Ukraine.

However, speaking is the most important skill for employers in Italy, Lithuania,

Spain and Switzerland.

• East Asia: Reading is the most important skill for approximately half of all the

employers in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea. However, speaking is the most important skill for employers in China.

Findings by industry

Across all industries, the most important skill for employers was either reading

(12 industries) or speaking (eight industries). Reading is most important to

employers in:

• Electronics and High Technology

• IT and Computer Services

• Aerospace and Defence.

Speaking is most important to employers in:

• Travel, Leisure and Hospitality

• Transportation and Distribution

• Recruitment and HR Services

• Retail.

Employers’ English language requirements

There is a wide range of English requirements in countries/territories where

English is not an official language, with

7% of job tasks requiring native-level English,

49% requiring advanced English,

31% requiring intermediate English

and 9% requiring basic English.

In every industry, there is a gap between the English language skills required at work and the English skills that employees have.

Evaluating English language skills during recruitment

98.5% of employers have at least one method of assessing English language

competency. The most common method is to interview applicants in English.

In addition, over a quarter of all employers use an external English language

test created by experts.

Around half employers offer a better starting package to applicant with good English language skills.

If you were not sure about polishing your English, I hope this article is enough to convince you to do so.


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