The importance and deficit of Mandarin Chinese speakers in the UK

A 2013 report commissioned by the British Council tells us there is a lack of language skills nation wide and that is not great news. The international market is continuously growing and in order for Britain to keep up and maintain its essential role, we need to equip our young generations with all they need.

Communication is key in international relations and it is important to keep in mind that even though English is one of the main global languages, there are countries and cultures that prefer using their own. Being able to speak a foreign partner’s language ,when abroad or hosting, shows respect, a will to cooperate closely and interest in maintaining a high-quality relationship.

This analysis puts Mandarin Chinese in the top 5 of languages needed not only for economic purposes but also for the cultural, educational and diplomatic purposes. We can not ignore the fact that China is the second most powerful global economy due to its manufacturing industry and export while the deficit of Chinese speakers is overwhelming - “only 1% of Uk’s adult population report that they speak Mandarin Chinese well enough to hold a conversation”1. Chinese is also the second most used language on the internet at present, according to this report.

If measures are not taken in time, UK’s competitiveness will be under threat and our citizens risk being excluded from the increasingly networked and interconnected world.