Foreign language skills boost employability and improve businesses' performance. That is the main finding of a report published recently by the Business Platform for Multilingualism (BPfM), an organisation that the European Commission set up in 2009 to advise it on the relationship between languages and competitiveness. The BPfM aims to persuade Europe's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to embrace multilingualism so as to enhance competitiveness and generate new job opportunities. More specifically, its goals are to:
1. Ensure that languages are present in all European programmes and policies, and be fully aware of their influence on economic growth, competitiveness and the creation of new and better jobs.
2. Engage in permanent language-related dialogue with the European Commission.
3. Offer all those interested in multilingualism and its benefits advice geared to employment and a knowledge-based economy.
4. Encourage transversal initiatives and work with the European Commission's different directorates-general, with a view to approaching the issue of languages from various angles (cultural, economic, social, etc.).
The BPfM consists of three working groups, namely a research group, a technical group and a marketing and communication group. It has 21 member organisations, which fall into the following broad categories:
1. European intermediary organisations, including BUSINESSEUROPE, EUROCHAMBRES (an association of over 1,200 European chambers of commerce) and EuroCommerce (whose membership includes trade federations from 31 European countries).
2. EU bodies, comprising the European Economic and Social Committee.
3. Higher education associations, comprising the European University College Association (EUCA) and the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE).
4. Specialist organisations and networks, including the Cultural Diversity Focus Group (CDFG), the European Language Council (ELC) and the European Plurilingualism Observatory (Observatoire européen du plurilinguisme or OEP).
The CELAN project: the BPfM's first tangible outcome
Established in early 2011, the CELAN project arose from the BPfM's requirement for a permanent means of exploring languages' potential in the economic arena. It involves three lines of work:
1. Research into European businesses' linguistic and language-related needs.
2. Research into language industry
products, tools and services for satisfying the aforementioned needs.
3. The development of solutions for businesses' multilingual needs.
Dovetailing with the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme, the CELAN project advises European SMEs on multilingual strategies for attracting international custom. To that end, a blog has been set up to provide comprehensive information for businesses.
Click here to view the full BPfM report, here for further information on the CELAN project or here to access the project's blog.
The Llengües i Empresa (Languages and Business) section of Linguamón's website features in-depth information (in Catalan) on the relationship between languages, the economy, competitiveness and the job market.