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European Education Area

Quality education and training for all

Languages for growth and jobs

Driving success for individuals and businesses

Good language and communication skills are vital for both individuals and businesses to succeed.

EU firms often forfeit business contracts because of poor language skills and a lack of knowledge about other cultures. It is clear that a strategic approach to multilingual communication is needed.

Young people who learn foreign languages can study or train abroad. Not only do they train in specific disciplines, they also hone their language and intercultural communication skills - a distinct benefit for employers.

An EU study on the impact of the Erasmus student exchange programme highlights how graduates with international experience fare much better in an increasingly international job market.

How the EU works to improve language skills

To help develop the skills EU citizens and businesses need for today's labour market, the European Commission cooperates with stakeholders from both the education and employment sectors. Through the Commission's Skills Panorama (an EU platform providing clear, reliable and up-to-date labour market data), EU governments, employers' organisations, and trade unions contribute to forecasting skills shortages in different sectors - including language skills.

  • As part of the Europe 2020 strategy, the European Skills/Competences, qualifications and Occupations (ECSO) project aids employers and individuals by describing, identifying and classifying professional occupations, skills, and qualifications relevant for the EU labour market and education and training. The project is supported by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP).
  • In order to meet the rising demand for special linguists, the Commission also gathers data from studies conducted in the EU on the links between language skills, competitiveness and employability. Further, the Commission seeks to forge links between universities and users of language services; for example, via the Translating Europe Forum.
  • The Commission recently coordinated a business platform that gave input to the Network for the Promotion of Language Strategies for Competitiveness and Employability (CELAN). Its aim was to identify the language needs of firms and employees within the EU, and to provide tools required to meet them.
  • The Languages for Jobs group also published a report on providing multilingual communication skills for the labour market.
  • Findings of the two most recent EU comprehensive reports on languages and employability – the Study on Foreign Language Proficiency and Employability and Languages and employability – indicate that there is a direct link between language skills and employability. It was recognised that foreign language skills are an important factor shaping the professional development of EU citizens. These reports also provide analyses of the demand for foreign language skills on the labour market and recommendations on how to support employers and employees in this respect.
  • Erasmus+ is another way in which the Commission supports languages as an engine for growth.