Slump in Languages ‘will cost British pupils dear in jobs market’

Only a couple of days ago I blogged about my alarm at companies bringing foreign workers as there are not enough language graduates in the UK. I therefore read with interest an article in the Evening Standard on Tuesday 24th August 2010 with the above headline.

The article should be a tip for all current students or recent graduates, go on a language course! Make yourself even more competitive in the jobs market and develop your language skills for a better future. Open up your world and see how many more opportunities you will have if you have this extra skill in your portfolio.

I feel that the government should at least bring back compulsory language learning at GCSE level to encourage  sustainable employment for future generations. We should not assume that everyone can speak English. Can we start a campaign to support this? Any thoughts from teachers out there with differing opinions?

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Employment Sustainability

I met someone this weekend who is a great supporter of portfolio working for new entrants into the world of work. She works in a student careers office and when I described my portfolio work she immediately said that it was something she was suggesting to students to build up their CVs in the current economic climate.

This suggests the portfolio-working trend is on the increase. Students are following this as a career path to grow their work experience post-graduation and create a more sustainable working life in difficult times. I know from personal experience that even when the economy is good it is difficult as a graduate to find a graduate job. I recall the numerous rejection letters I and my university colleagues received before we finally found work. However, with the huge debt that students are already burdened with it is not surprising that several jobs might be needed to counterbalance the situation they are in.

One of the things I have been aiming towards in my portfolio work is ‘sustainability’. Making sure that the work I do can continue longer term, become established with good reputation, help me grow and develop professionally and sustain my living costs with money to spare. At the moment I am trying to combine this with ‘fiscal responsibility’ (mentioned on BBC Radio 4 recently) which means only spending what you can afford. Naturally risk taking is good too but we’ve all been seduced by the easy credit situation and look where that has got us.

Perhaps students will have to start thinking more about this too. Is it no longer realistic to move away from home to study? Can they study in their home town? Is university always the answer to a successful career? Are there alternatives? Traineeships? Apprenticeships?

I am also alarmed to hear on the grapevine recently that companies in the city of London are increasingly under pressure to import staff from their own countries to work in their London offices because British staff can’t speak foreign languages. Perhaps British students need to think more about this area of study to increase their chances of the career they want. It would seem the UK education system may not have considered the issues of employment sustainability in this country when they decided to end compulsory languages at GCSE.

Portfolio-working is more than just a way of work. It also raises many issues regarding employment sustainability, personal career choice, our impact on the economy and environment and our own futures. Perhaps this should be something recommended in job centres too? Or is it already? I’d love to hear from careers advisers at Job Centre Plus to find out.

My favourite Zeitgeist words for this blog:

  1. Portfolio-working
  2. Fiscal responsibility
  3. Employment sustainability

‘Portfolio working’ – an alternative working style

In a time of world recession and economic troubles we need to be flexible and embrace change. Having worked in the creative and media industries for a few years now my work has gradually and developed into a portfolio of work, roles and projects and I love it. This was an organic process but has led to some really nourishing and fulfilling work.

My work includes marketing management for a creative SME in the TV industry, creative arts production, performing my own cabaret act, acting and voice over, associate in training for a training company, and the occasional bit of freelance proofreading for a publisher.

I don’t want to sound like a confused individual, so believe me all these areas are connected and work together in unison very well. As many of you out there this kind of work can be stressful, risky and you must be able to multi-tasking, but the important part of portfolio working is to make it work for you, and learn when to say ‘no’.

In the current economic climate ‘freelancers’ have taken a hit. There have been recent periods of ‘not working’. But I can honestly say that the best thing to do is try to stay motivated. Make your own opportunities to build on your own personal career development. Study something, learn a new skill. This can only work in your favour.

This blogging profile will aim to offer thoughts, tips, rants and raves on the subject of portfolio working, let’s keep in touch.

Things to read for inspiration:

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

Funding for career-related courses:

Career Development Loans with Barclays or the Cooperative bank.

An Open University definition of Portfolio Working:

http://www.open.ac.uk/careers/portfolio-working.php

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