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SME responds to Business Secretary’s call for languages

On May 6, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced a new initiative, which will encourage companies to identify and employ postgraduate students with relevant language skills for key overseas markets. The postgraduates will help overcome language barriers, advise on cultural etiquette and grow businesses internationally. Industrial automation component supplier, European Automation, strongly supports the initiative and adds that cultural knowledge is crucial for tackling any new market.

"At the moment, foreign language skills are not always regarded as key attributes for job candidates," explains Jonathan Wilkins, marketing manager of European Automation. "In our experience, many companies already have useful language and cultural skills in-house, but they don’t use these assets to grow their business. Hopefully, this new government initiative will help change the current mindset.

"The main growth driver behind European Automation is our dedicated multilingual sales team," argues Wilkins. "In our Staffordshire headquarters, we employ people of over 20 nationalities, who speak a total of 17 languages. When our customers call from different parts of the world, they are put through to a native language speaker with relevant cultural knowledge. This eliminates communication problems and creates an authentic relationship between our customers and our sales team.

"Our language-based business model has helped us become an international player in the world of industrial automation, with 82 per cent of our sales currently coming from exports," continued Wilkins. "Language skills and cultural know-how will always be at the very core of our business, alongside dedication and excellent customer service.

"According to the research that sparked the initiative to recruit more multilingual postgraduate students, as much as £48 billion is lost in international sales because of poor language skills and cultural ignorance. In other words, there’s a significant "slice of cake" out there, just waiting to be divided between companies who are forward-thinking and brave enough to take the plunge and become more export-friendly," concluded Wilkins.

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