S3 to S6 students from Banchory Academy, Banff Academy, Inverurie Academy, Meldrum Academy, Mintlaw Academy, Peterhead Academy and The Gordon Schools joined 116 learners from schools across the North-east of Scotland on February 9 to hear from a range of business leaders who view language skills as key to the growth and success of their company.
The Business Brunch demonstrated the relevance of language skills in a work context and aimed to encourage pupils to continue with their language studies into the senior phase of their secondary education, and beyond school.
A teacher attending brunch said at the event: “Today’s event gave learners the opportunity to engage with local employers and discover the relevance of language skills here, in their local area.
“Pupils were able to see that they might even need a language that is not taught at their school, but the skills they develop whilst learning any language are transferable and therefore valuable.”
One of the young people added: “I learnt that no matter what career you pursue, it can be very useful to be able to speak a different language. It can broaden your horizons.”
The event was organised by SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages based at University of Strathclyde, in partnership with the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland.
Fhiona Mackay, director of SCILT said: “Events such as these are a really important way of providing young people with high quality careers advice delivered by the business people themselves and of demonstrating to them the value of language skills in our increasingly globalised world.”
Companies attending included Aberdeen City Council, University of Aberdeen, The Chester Hotel, China-Britain Business Council, VisitScotland, TOTAL E&P UK LIMITED and Scottish Dance Theatre.
Virginie Jégat, from TOTAL E&P UK LIMITED and one of the workshop leaders, said: “Here at TOTAL E&P UK we see on a daily basis the benefit of languages in the workplace.
“The ability to speak another language adds huge value to the business experience, whilst increasing cultural understanding within the workforce and towards our clients.”
Meaningful employer engagement and providing relevant careers advice are both key recommendations of Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy - ‘developing the young workforce’.
This business brunch supported these aims by giving young people the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the role of languages in the business world. The targets laid out in the Scottish Attainment Challenge are about achieving equity in educational outcomes, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap.
Through hearing from a range of business leaders and interacting with employees, the aspirations of the young people who attended were raised.
This collaboration between schools and businesses supported Scotland’s International Policy to equip young people with international communication and employability skills that they will need in our increasingly globalised society and economy.
The event is one of a series of business brunches being held across Scotland, which started in January and are continuing to run throughout February.