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English may well be the global language, but as we mark European Day of Languages (26 September, 2016), export experts are encouraging businesses in the West Midlands that want to broaden their horizons to loosen their tongues.
It is estimated that the UK economy loses contracts worth about £50 billion a year because of the lack of language skills among the workforce.
Christine Hamilton, interim regional director of the Department for International Trade West Midlands, said:
“Making the effort to learn key phrases and even the basics of another language can go a long way in breaking down barriers
“Communication is key when trading overseas and being able to do so either face-to-face or online makes you more competitive and speaking another language makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd.
“Languages are the foundation for cultural heritage, so if you want to do business with other markets, speaking their language gives you an insight into their culture. Having a deeper understanding of the culture of the people you plan to do business with is rewarding and it will undoubtedly help building trust and respect.”
On the Exporting is GREAT website, there are currently 49 live export opportunities in Germany alone – from popcorn manufacturers to technical products the aerospace sector – while Italian companies are looking for British IPA and bitter ale and fashion goods. In Poland, there are currently 91 export opportunities, including a request for British-made plus-size lingerie, road engineers, and sports equipment.
The Department for International Trade West Midlands hosts a number of language and culture masterclasses each year for businesses.
These seminars, which can last between half a day and a full day, are designed to introduce businesses to cultural attitudes, business style and key phrases. They cover etiquette and dress code, business ethics and protocol, as well as basic language such as greetings, addressing people, and numbers.
The next masterclass is on 6 October, when DIT experts will host a free half-day business culture on Germany. On 13 October, there will be a masterclass on Chinese culture and language and on 6 December, a session on India.
For details and to book, visit http://ditmasterclasses.eventbrite.com/