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Foreign language skills make jobseekers more employable

Job hunters should highlight their language skills or learn a new tongue if they want to find a job fast.

Personnel Today reports employers ranked languages as second only to IT ability on a list of desirable skills for job candidates. In a poll of 500 employers , two in five recruiters said speaking a second language gives a candidate the “x-factor” when applying for a job.

French (34 percent), German (25 percent) and Spanish (23 percent) are the languages considered the most useful by employers, but there is an emerging demand for UK community languages such as Polish (15 percent), Urdu (12 percent) and Punjabi (nine percent).

Speaking a second language also boosts earnings. The research revealed the mean salary of language graduates three years after finishing university is ahead of engineering, maths, physics and astronomy, and chemistry graduates.

Nearly 300 firms, including Boots, Arsenal FC, HSBC, IBM and British Airways, have signed up to the Try Life in Another Language campaign, launched by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the National Centre for Languages.

Dr Lid King, the government's national director for languages, told Personnel Today: "This research shows that UK employers are demanding candidates with languages, and that having these skills can really give young people entering the jobs market the edge. Languages are vital for the success of the UK economy but for young people themselves they can also have tangible benefits, as just having a language on your CV could be the key to getting your foot in the door."

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