Is it worth investing in English language training? In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why companies choose to cut English language training for their employees, and why it could be beneficial to re-consider your own company’s strategic goals.
Workforce vs Current Employee?
Now that the job market has become globalised, companies face the challenge of hiring the right professional with the right skill set for every position advertised. What set of skills makes this candidate more qualified to do the job than the next candidate? Does it all come down to job-related skills and appropriate qualifications? Or do extra-curricular experiences tip the balance one way or the other?
And where does the ability to speak a foreign language proficiently become the deciding factor? In this article, we will advise on how to best approach and implement English language training and the benefits of doing so for your company.
Most companies confront these challenges by hiring English-speaking staff. They find themselves in a Catch-22: either they hire a professional who speaks English well but lacks the skills for the job itself, or hire the person with the best skill set and put them into English language training courses.
When the economy is weak, most companies consider language training an extravagance: it is fat to be trimmed, so they work to trim it from their budget. In the short term this may seem to be the most appropriate course of action. Business is slow, so when better to re-structure, keep on the highly-skilled core and get rid of the extraneous chaff?
With the money you’ve saved on payroll, you can invest in developing the team who remains according to the company’s strategic requirements. One can only hope that this will prove to be the keys to your collective success.
Corporate English Training Tips 101:
There are numerous reasons why companies choose to cut language training, however, in so doing they are entering a vicious circle that they would be well advised to avoid. A company should be able to quantify the following:
1) Identify which professional needs language training, why they have the need, and how it ought to be carried out. Note that language training has to be a strategic decision.
2) There are very few suppliers of language courses that take on a strategic view in a consultative manner that respect the needs analysis of the client. Unsurprisingly, the few that do exist charge very high fees.
3) In the absence of strategic know-how, companies hire run-of-the-mill schools to carry out their language training. No needs analysis gets done, there is no strategic assessment of the students’ level, nor do they have an exact idea of how much time and money will be invested in language training and for how long. The result will be a never-ending training program, otherwise known as a bottomless money pit.
4) You have to keep your eye on your RoI from the outset. Since run-of-the-mill courses are often unengaging, this results in a general lack of motivation, low attendance/retention, and the slow, inevitable shuffle towards the end of language training.
A game of chess anybody?
The benefits of English Language training
Everything, it seems, leads us to conclude that language training is an extravagant expense that should be cut when the economic tide turns against you. But that would be a mistake as it takes in only part of the wider picture. Consider the following:
1) First, HR has to take ownership of language training. It must be seen as an important and strategic aspect of the company’s overall strategy. The HR professional allocated to manage language training should be a person with strategic vision, able to develop overall and critical analyses of any aspect related to the main goal.
2) Language training should be carried out as a project, not just a benefit program.
3) When creating a language training project, a timeline should be properly prepared. Each part of the project must be delegated and assigned to the appropriate group of experts.
4) Determine why language training is important: who needs it? What do they need it for? How often it will be used?
5) It is essential to identify people within your organisation who are in a position to answer questions arising from training conclusively. If necessary, empower the HR department to do so.
6) Hire consultants who have experience in applying language placement tests. At E2Language, for example, we work with highly-credible international tests such as ETS’s TOEIC and Cambridge University’s BULATS. These standardisation tests enable the company to objectively see the overall level of its professionals, determine who needs language training and for how long, which in turn allows them to set the right budget for the project. The test will accurately determine which team members no longer require language training.
7) The company must choose a supplier that is able to deliver the required training at the determined budget. This supplier has to do more than the work of a regular school: it needs to carry out a detailed analysis of each department requiring language training in order to customise its course content. This process should be objective and efficient, never wasting company time or resources.
8) The company should be able to determine the length of any customised language course. This is basically good housekeeping, since the client ought to be in control of how much they invest and for how long.
9) Participating in a tailor-made program means that the students will appreciate the relevance of the course content. What is more, they should also be able to notice incremental improvements in their English level that will help to keep them highly motivated.
10) By treating language learning as a project, the company will be able to see the RoI on the language training: once the students have reach their goals, the training can be concluded.
At the end of the day…
Undoubtedly, it is best to hire a highly-skilled workforce, then invest in training your talent in a smart way. Do not think of it as an expense but a crucial important investment which, if done correctly with the right partner/supplier, will enrich your workforce.
Want to know more about how to optimise corporate English training solutions for your business? Feel free to get in touch!
Ricardo Hilgenberg – National Director, E2Language Brazil
Colin David – Director of Business Development, E2Language