Britain's dire youth unemployment situation could worsen as Ucas figures show that there has been a 5% drop in modern language applications, says a leading translation and interpretation group.
According to All Languages, the latest set of Ucas figures, which show a 5% drop in modern language applications despite the overall number of students applying for university places rising, will only exacerbate tougher competition for graduate positions due to the lack of language skills.
"Right now businesses are crying out for language skills. Ironically this comes at a time when provision for taking up languages as an education choice in the UK is inferior to other countries," said Lorna Nelson, Managing Director of All Languages.
"We are suffering from a growing deficit in foreign language skills, and we need companies to change their attitudes when it comes to speaking other languages.
It is no longer acceptable to presume all business will be done in English; monolingual Brits will not be able to compete with individuals from other parts of the world who can speak two or more languages with many children in places like Sweden receiving language tuition from primary school age."
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that there are more than 900,000 young people in the UK out of work and the country's unemployment rate for 16 to 24-year-olds is 19.8% – much higher than the total jobless rate of 7.2%.
All Languages say that Ucas figures are a cause for concern and require immediate action at classroom and boardroom level as another report shows that the UK's growing decline in foreign languages, at a time when globally there has never been a higher demand for language skills, could not have come at a worse time.
"Our variety of courses in an array of foreign languages suit a nervous beginner, an intermediate learner or competent entrepreneurs who want to learn negotiating skills and business writing," said Nelson.
"The fall in modern language course applications really highlights that now is the time to act – employers need to build language capacity now to compensate for the shortfall in multilingual graduates that is now certain to hit in three and four years' time. This has clear commercial implications and must be tackled now in order to remain competitive further down the road."