UK Workforce Lagging Behind

The UK workforce is falling behind in European Union institutions, reports the head of the European Parliament’s London information office. While the British workforce contains 12% of the EU’s population, they only represent 5% of the jobs in the European Parliament and Commission.

European Parliament Careers

On Monday, in an attempt to build awareness about the European Parliament, the Parliament and the EU are holding an open day for UK school students and graduates. They hope to encourage students to think about a career in Brussels or Strasbourg.

Officials are pointing to poor foreign language skills as the cause of the small British workforce numbers. Michael Stackleton, the person in charge of the European Parliament’s communications operation in the UK said, “People like me are coming to retirement and its very clear there are not enough people to take our places. I think it matters at all levels of the institutions not just at the highest levels – having people from British backgrounds adds to the mix, it’s really important if you want to influence what is going on.”

Foreign Language Decline

The last government allowed students to stop learning a foreign language from age 14, and since that time, there has been a decline in the number of student who study foreign languages to GCSE level. The percentages of students taking language until the GCSEs have fallen from 61% in 2005 to only 44% in 2010.

A recent innovation, the English Baccalaureate, created by the coalition government, will now be awarded to students who achieve good GCSE passes in two science qualifications, math, English, history or geography, and foreign or ancient language. They hope that this will encourage more language learning, and more of a need for language teachers.

Language concerns are also shared in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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