Of the more than 1,500 adults polled by Populus, 79% of Britons had not lived or studied abroad for six months or more. More men said they had international experience (24%) than women (19%).
“The good news is that this poll shows people are beginning to recognise how vital international skills are for enhancing their career,” said Jo Beall, the British Council’s Director of Education and Society.
“Research last year revealed that more UK employers look for international awareness above academic qualifications”
“But the bad news is that not enough people in the UK are taking opportunities to gain international experience. That needs to change if the UK will successfully compete in the global economy.”
Respondents under 25 expressed the most regret; 54% believing their lack of international experience has held them back.
Geographically people in Northern Ireland felt their lack of experience abroad has affected their professional life the most, with 53% saying their lack of it has harmed their prospects followed by 42% of Londoners and 41% in the North-East of England.
The British Council commissioned polling company Populus to conduct the survey as part of its work to help young people in the UK develop the skills they need to compete in a global economy.
The organisation’s programmes include the English Language Assistant scheme, with more than 2,500 places available for native English speakers to spend up to a year on paid placements in 14 countries, assisting in English language teaching and gaining vital cultural and language experience.
“Research last year revealed that more UK employers look for international awareness and experience above academic qualifications,” commented Beall.
A study earlier this year by the European commission found that 83% of the companies surveyed use language skills as a factor in recruitment.