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Inspiring Scotland’s future global workforce in Dundee

18 January 2019 (SCILT)

Young people from 12 schools across Dundee had the opportunity to engage with local businesses at the University of Dundee on 9 January 2019. 115 S2-S5 learners heard 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: “Today’s event has given learners an insight into the benefits of language learning throughout life and what a bonus a language can be, given the wide range of skills language learning develops, when looking for employment.”

One of the young people added to this: “I didn't know how helpful it was to know a second language. I learnt today how different businesses use languages and why it is beneficial to learn a language at school.”

Paul Sheerin from Scottish Engineering and one of the speakers commented: “This was a great opportunity for Scottish Engineering to press the importance of languages to our future workforce.  Engineering and Manufacturing, by its nature, tends towards international operations, and we will increase our competitiveness as a trading nation with people who, through language learning, understand how to communicate and connect with people around the world.”

The event was organised by SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages based at University of Strathclyde, in partnership with the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland (UCMLS). Schools represented were Arbroath Academy, Beath High, Blairgowrie High, Carnoustie High, Grove Academy, Harris Academy, Holyrood Secondary, Lochgelly High, Madras College, Montrose Academy, St John's RC High and Webster's High.

Companies attending included Dover Fueling Solutions, Michelin Tyre PLC, Outplay Entertainment, Scottish Dance Theatre and Scottish Engineering. The following businesses supported the event by hosting a stall in the Marketplace: Al-Maktoum College, Glamis Castle, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy / Royal Marines, The British Army, The Open University in Scotland, The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the University of Dundee. 

Fhiona Mackay, Director of SCILT added: “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 is one of a series of Business Brunches being held across Scotland in December 2018 and January 2019.

More information on SCILT’s 2019 Business Brunches

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