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Archive for January, 2011

How long is your working day? As the song goes, a lot of people work 9-5, although here in the UK it’s not unusual for people to be in the office until 6pm or 7pm. However our neighbours in France are renowned for their 35 hour week. Could this be set to change?

A potential future leader of France’s opposition Socialist Party (PS), Manuel Valls, is calling for this tradition to be abolished, saying it holds the economy back. “The world is changing fast, and it is the responsibility of the left to reconcile the French with this need for change. The 35-hour rule affects this country’s competitiveness and it needs to go” he’s quoted as saying.

With France still recovering from the downturn which hit its economy significantly, will this idea get Mr Valls a bigger following? And will the 35 hour week eventually disappear? It was in fact only brought in during the 1990s to try and boost employment anyway. Time will tell, but it could certainly be a good idea to make companies in France more competitive.

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Why the government made languages optional, as the business world becomes increasingly international, is still somewhat of a mystery to me. Employers need more linguists than ever to help them build and maintain strong relationships with customers and colleagues overseas, but statistics show there are less and less young people learning languages at school since they stopped being compulsory. A recent report by Ofsted highlights that some state schools have not one pupil taking a foreign language GCSE and only a third have reached the target of having half of their students taking a modern language GCSE.

It seems that rather than admit the error of its ways and make languages compulsory once again, the government is trying to come up with other ways of producing future linguists. It is proposing that the way schools are ranked is changed and saying that they should be judged on the level of success at GCSE in five subjects, one of which is a foreign language.

Although if this does happen it will hopefully increase the number of young people learning languages, is it too little too late? Many schools are not geared up for such high levels of language teaching after the government made them compulsory – “You can’t have schools judged against criteria that were not previously in place,” said National Union of Teachers leader Christine Blower.

So, what will happen in the future? Whatever legislation the government decides to implement, we hope that schools will be encouraged to get as many of their students as possible taking languages, and encourage them to pursue these subjects past the age of 16. Language skills can lead to some great jobs – see our posts in the category ‘language jobs’ if you need proof!

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Here is the next post in our ‘so you want to be a…’ series. Hope you find it useful!

What does the role entail?

This role that we recruited for recently was a Wholesale Licenser/Pharmacist, which required someone to work for a Japanese pharmaceutical company and trade medicines from suppliers in Europe to the UK wholesale market.

What languages are needed?

As this role was for a Japanese company, it required a Japanese speaker who understood how business operates in Japan and could communicate effectively with people at the company’s headquarters. However the person needed to liaise with suppliers in EU counties and so any European languages were also beneficial. (more…)

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