Video: British businesses losing out because of a lack of language skills and cultural awareness

By Anita Jaynes on 24 September, 2015

British businesses could be losing business to overseas competitors because of a lack of foreign language skills and cultural awareness amongst their staff. That’s according to new research which saw a quarter say a lack of language skills among their newest employees has resulted in a loss of business opportunities, while two in five said a lack of cultural understanding among their newest employees has resulted in lost business opportunities.

A third even said a lack of language skills among their newest employees has resulted in difficulty filling vacancies. With more than 80% believing colleges and universities should do more to help young adults think more globally.

Two thirds (65%) of senior directors at businesses that currently, or are looking to, operate internationally are worried that many young adults’ perspectives or educational experiences are not broad enough to operate in a multicultural economy. This rises to more than three quarters (76%) at large businesses with over 250 employees.

The research by translation and localisation experts Conversis, shows just how important language skills and even an understanding of other cultures is becoming in the increasingly global business marketplace. With, 74% saying their organisation values new college hires and graduates with international skills that can advance their international trade efforts, rising to 86% and 80% at medium and large businesses respectively. 

Two thirds say their organisation looks for new college hires and graduates with first language competency other than English that can connect them to new markets, while a similar number say they would hire multilingual candidates over those who lack a second language. However, interestingly, cultural awareness was in fact seen as more important than language skills when hiring at all levels, apart from senior management.

Gary Muddyman, CEO of global translation company, Conversis, and Bill Rivers, Executive Director at the Joint National Committee for Languages discuss the research findings in this video here…

To download the full report, go to

Conversis, recently announced as a Lloyds Bank National Business Awards finalist, is a leading supplier of translation and localisation services. Conversis was founded in 2003 by Gary Muddyman (CEO) and Karin Pfetzer (COO). Having spent 16 years at HSBC, primarily in corporate development, Gary started Conversis with the intention of advancing the understanding and use of localisation and translation as a strategic business tool. Coming from a linguistic and project management background, Karin’s aim has always been to make our clients’ language projects a success by bringing together the best suited human and technical resources. Over the last decade, Conversis has built a reputation as a high-quality, value-for-money supplier delivering time-sensitive localisation and translation projects for companies the world over.

Conversis provide translation and localisation services for all industries, but have specific expertise in marketing communications and the healthcare, technology and energy sectors. At its simplest, its role is to provide a professional, fast, targeted and relevant translation service; on time, on budget and to the right level of quality every time. They also provide a number of other services that are crucial to achieving success in foreign markets. These include software localisation and internationalisation, multilingual desktop publishing, globalisation consultancy and international marketing services, including SEO.