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Help prove that languages boost export opportunities

A unique Aston Business School PhD project aiming to prove language skills are vital for any UK business planning to expand into competitive global markets is looking for the input of local businesses.

Help prove that languages boost export opportunities

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a crucial role in the UK economy, with research showing their combined revenue in 2017 was £1.8 trillion, which is 47% of total UK private sector turnover.

However another study has shown that around 75-80% of new SMEs close within 10 years for a number of reasons, including lack of growth. Similar research has found one way for UK SMEs to grow is to export their trade, but a lack of language skills is a hindrance to their success in international markets.

Until now little effort has been made to actually quantify the link between language skills and the benefits to growing companies planning to export their trade.

Aston Business School researcher Ankita Tibrewal is working on a three-year PhD study investigating if a company’s language capabilities are a crucial way of enhancing its exporting prospects.

The aim of her project, which is co-funded by the Association of Translation Companies (ATC), is to produce a valid scale to help UK companies planning to enter the export markets assess the value of language skills against the effort to introduce them into their business.

To help Ankita gather her vital evidence and assess the importance of languages in making exporting more viable, she is seeking your input. She needs to speak to a range of UK SMEs which are already exporting or are targeting export markets to grow their businesses.

If your company is trading with international customers, or planning to expand into the worldwide marketplace, would you be willing to be interviewed by Ankita about the value of language skills in competing for business in global markets?

She also wants to speak with SMEs who have never considered exporting to understand why this hasn’t been an option for them.

If you would like to help, please sign up on this link: to be contacted by Ankita to explain more about the project research and answer any queries you might have. You can also contact her on the following email address: [email protected].

If you are interested in taking part, she’ll get back to arrange a mutually convenient time to talk, and as a thank-you for your help, you’d have early access to the research findings, for your own marketing teams to review and utilise as part of any international business efforts that require the involvement of languages and translation.

Isabella Moore, Director of Leamington-based Comtec Translations and ATC Council Member, said: “As the UK approaches Brexit and no surety of single market access, language skills will become critical in helping small and medium-sized enterprises grow their business. In this climate, the UK cannot afford to be left behind as it competes for business with European trading partners with significantly better language capabilities.

“But while the ATC knows that languages must mean business, little effort has been made to actually quantify the link between language skills and the benefits to growing companies planning to export their trade.

“The findings of this unique project will show whether language skills have a role to play in helping companies export. It should give the hard evidence needed to boost the ATC’s call for the UK economy to understand that language skills are an important element of competitive advantage. If you are interested in this important project, your input would be much appreciated.”

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