The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have called for languages to be made compulsory in schools until AS levels, in order to help the future economy. Modern languages had previously been a mandatory subject for GCSEs, but this was changed in 2004. French and German were the most popular choices offered by many schools, but the number of students taking those subjects has halved in the last 16 years.
Last summer, 154,221 pupils took French. This is in contrast to the 350,027 pupils who sat the exam in 1995. 60,887 students took the German GCSE last year, compared with 129,386 in 1995.
Director General of the BCC, John Longworth, said:
“A renewed focus on language skills at school, as well as helping companies forge new connections overseas, could help ensure that current and future business owners are pre-disposed to thinking internationally.
We are already the sixth largest trading nation on earth, and the third largest service exporter, but to really secure our future as a leading exporter we need to help companies take advantage of new markets.
Giving businesses the opportunity to forge links with international firms, develop employees’ language skills, and providing compulsory education in languages for young people will transform many of the great businesses we have in the UK into success stories overseas.”
The business network also called for tax breaks for small companies which offer foreign language training to staff.
The National Curriculum is currently under Government review, with changes expected to be announced in 2013.
Source: Channel 4 News
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