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Study links top innovative economies with English proficiency

The fast-pace of technology development is putting pressure on companies to be more adaptable, creative and flexible in order to compete on a global level. However, not enough is being done by industries and governments to create a workforce well placed to serve the needs of the evolving labour market, according to education company EF.

The development of technology has created a demand for companies and their employees to adapt and change quickly

Three-quarters of the 57 government representatives surveyed worldwide said it is the responsibility of employers to provide their employees with the appropriate skills

The company identified overlaps between the countries topping its English Proficiency Index and the Global Innovative Index co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization an agency of the United Nations.  Switzerland, the UK, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands top the GPI, all with “high” to “native” EPI scores.

A policy paper released by the company identifies key skills that are required by companies in order to be innovative and contribute to the creation of healthy economies.

“Preparing employees has changed from being very prescriptive to more fluid skill sets that are more generally applicable”

The framework it proposes focuses on short and long-term strategies industry and government should work together to implement including improving English proficiency, communication skills and dialogue between policy and business needs.

“There’s an intuitive link that better international communication skills have an impact on things like GDP and you would argue innovation,” commented Andy Bailey, Chief Marketing Officer at EF.

EF urges governments to invest in intensive teacher training programmes to create quick, large-scale impact on future generations’ communication skills and English proficiency.

“The same way you see a start-up changing direction, doing something differently and seeing it take effect, there are things that can be done differently that you’ll see take effect very fast,” commented Dan Ilet, Marketing Executive at EF. “There are quick wins but they aren’t always the most obvious.”

Alongside improving English speaking skills, the paper said governments should incorporate the development of the Four C’s -critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity– into national curriculum to create students who know how to think.

“These are new skill sets that we argue are more important, they arm you for flexibility, for a dynamic world,” commented Bailey. “It’s changed from being very prescriptive to more fluid skill sets that are more generally applicable.”

The company worked with The Economist Intelligence Unit to carry out research into how multinationals are keeping up in knowledge-based economies. The study found that across the board governments are relying on industry to give employees the new skills they require.

“Business needs to articulate very clearly to policy makers what’s required and policy makers need to have that long-term vision about developing workforce ready people”

Three-quarters of the 57 government representatives surveyed worldwide said it is the responsibility of employers to provide their employees with the appropriate skills.  Meanwhile only 55% of 350 representatives at multinational corporations say the task should be left to them.

EF recommends governments work with industry to shrink the communication gap and establish long-term, life-long learning environments.

“It’s a collective responsibility [to train skilled workers],” said Bailey. “The problem we see at EF through our work with governments is that there’s been a mismatch in communication into what’s required of a workforce to be workforce ready when they go into full-time employment.

“Business needs to articulate very clearly to policy makers what’s required, or what would be the ideal for them and likewise policy makers need to have that long-term vision about developing as much as they can workforce ready people.”

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