The new KV commercial apprenticeship will start in 2023 and it brings significant changes, also in terms of foreign language learning. However, it is still certain that foreign language skills remain critical for young business professionals. Why? Read on.
Despite a one-year delay of the reform, the new KV commercial apprenticeship will start in 2023, with students looking at a significantly transformed and modernised education. The reform also means, that there will be changes to foreign language learning and with it, changes to how language diplomas will be employed within the program in the future. No matter how authorities and schools may decide to employ language certificates, it is certain, that foreign language skills and the certification thereof, in particular English, will remain critical for the careers of these young business professionals.
If one takes a closer look at the competencies young business professionals need today, it will become evident that there are a number of fundamental business skills. Young career focused individuals must have acquired core skills even before business-sector or field-specific skills become relevant. It could be argued that being in command of the most common office applications, internet literacy, project management, critical thinking and of course English language skills are among the core skills.
So, English language skills seem critical and arguably belong to a set of fundamental business skills critical in business today. But why are they so critical in an age in which translation apps and other software offer instant language exchange between dozens of languages in written and spoken language, and offering an astonishing quality and speed? Well, all of these tools and advances in technology are undoubtedly a great support in communication, however,they come to a limit when spontaneous, reactive and improvised communication is critical, where also the interplay between body language and language competence ensure effective overall communication mastery. This is particularly critical during negotiations where humans additionally need to employ speaking, writing, reading and listening skills almost simultaneously.
Being able to master the above-mentioned multiple communication tasks in a business setting such as in meetings, supports or even demonstrates an overall superior impression of personality and general competence in Business for the individual. Adding to the business-critical aspects of why foreign language competence is important, come the language specific elements which are key. Acquired solid language skills are the basic foundation on which sector specific language skills are built upon. If one has not acquired the skill to employ a foreign language in a basic, structure and coherent way, how should they advance with enhancing their skills with sector or field specific language skills?
So, we have established that foreign language competence in a business context is still critical despite advanced technology. However, proving language competence through a language certificate is arguably equally as important. Usually, a CVs serve as a ticket to any employment interview. That means, language skills or for that matter any skills one has acquired, need to be proven in order to get the chance for being interviewed. Language certificates not only prove language competence, they also submit proof of extra effort and achievement and hence have no shelf-life.
"If students follow the journey of mastering several steps up the language competence latter (CEFR) over time, it even strengthens the argument of extra ordinary achievement, especially on an international level and mapped against global standards."
Last but in no way least, mastering several high-intense assessment situations on the mentioned journey prove that successful candidates have the repeated ability to navigate through tense situations when performance and focus matter under the pressure of time.
At the end of the day, in a globalised world, where according to Wikipedia 63.4% of global internet content is English (followed by Russian 7.1% believe it or not, #33 in the ranking is Norwegian by 0.1%), English is arguably the global business language and hence the main communication denominator for business people around the globe. Adding to the number of required fundamental core business skills -English language- or just foreign language competence and the proof thereof is and will remain important, despite advances in Technology. In essence, any student who chooses a commercial apprenticeship in Switzerland will be more competitive in the local and global job markets when he or she acquires an internationally recognised language certificate.
Commentary by Pete Kaithan CEO Swiss Exams
Get your free, 5-min-read monthly newsletter. Used by 3000+ people to be better informed about the latest exam information, product updates and supporting preparation material for organisations, teachers and students!