More than half of IT, customer and business services centers address the lack of language skills of job seekers and employees. The proposed abolition of compulsory second foreign language teaching will exacerbate this problem. The sector, which already employs 44% of qualified foreigners, would end up with a greater dependence on foreign experts and its planned growth could be in jeopardy.
An expert group commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is proposing the abolition of compulsory second language teaching in the forthcoming reform of primary education. They want to follow this step in Slovakia, Spain, Germany or Sweden, where this obligation no longer applies. According to them, the reason is mainly the focus on the individual needs of each student, the possibility of choice and strengthening responsibility. Although they would have to offer a foreign language as an optional subject, many experts believe that only a minimum of children would choose it. Thus, the teaching of a second foreign language could completely disappear from schools in the countryside or in smaller cities. In addition, having the second language as optional could further exacerbate inequalities in education.
However, such a move would have also a significant impact on the IT, customer and business services sector, which is based on the employment of qualified people with knowledge of foreign languages.
“The lack of experts with sufficient language skills could significantly jeopardize the growth of our field. We currently employ 145,000 people in 350 centers across the country and plan to increase by another 50,000 by 2025, ”says Jonathan Appleton, director of ABSL,
adding:“ The situation in Czech education is not currently ideal for our sector, mainly due to very rapid development and growth that the sector is going through. Czech education is unable to respond to it quickly enough and flexibly include new necessary fields of study and subjects. In particular, the teaching of technical subjects and foreign languages is insufficient. ”
The language skills of Czechs are weak, the sector therefore employs foreigners
Even today, the level of knowledge of foreign languages is not ideal in the Czech Republic. According to the latest survey by the personnel agency Grafton Recruitment, only 26% of Czechs can be proud of their advanced knowledge. Despite the fact that the English language is still the most widespread, according to the Czech organization Education First it dropped to 27th place in the international evaluation of English language proficiency last year, and thus had one of the biggest declines in the world. The second most widespread language is by far German, which is spoken by only 8% of applicants. French is in third place with 7%.
“We have long noted a shortage of Czech candidates with the necessary knowledge of foreign languages. That is why we are one of the largest employers of foreigners in the Czech Republic, “explains Jonathan Appleton.
he business services sector employs 57,000 foreign workers, which represents 44% of the total number of employees. As many as 31% of business service centers say they employ even more foreigners than local staff.
Business services use a wide range of languages
A total of thirty languages are spoken in the business services sector and there are representatives of up to 80 nationalities. The most commonly used languages include English, Czech and German by default. As many as 26,000 employees speak German, which represents 18% of the entire sector. In addition, the demand for these people is still rising. However, employers are also looking for candidates with knowledge of French, Polish, Dutch, Italian, Swedish, Spanish, Slovak or Russian. Requirements for knowledge of less common languages, such as Arabic, Albanian, Hebrew or Chinese, are no exception. Better financial rewards can also be a good motivation for studying foreign languages. Workers with knowledge of German, Dutch or French can improve by up to 7,000 crowns.
“Applicants with knowledge of two foreign languages have career opportunities in lucrative fields such as IT. Language skills are often more valuable for employers than professional experience and knowledge, because the employer can train his people in that, ”concludes Jaromír Staroba, president of the ABSL association and director of the ABInBev center.