Getting the Language Skills Ball Rolling…

On April 17th, the  MAABN and UCCCAB (Union des Chambres de Commerce et Club d’Affaires Biléraux) organised a special conference on the importance of foreign languages -and in particular English- for the local economy.

Audience (Large)The conference attracted over 100 people from the business and the education sectors and featured speakers from Aix-Marseille University, local industry, PACA Mode d’Emploi, several language schools and the City of Marseille.

Debate focussed primarily on the key issue of how language skills increase business competitivity and the attractiveness of companies in our area. However, time and again, speakers mentioned the difficulty of finding job candidates with the necessary foreign language skills. With a higher-than-average unemployment rate in the region, it is  frustrating to see that job opportunities are there but the language skills are not.

Of course, such an important issue has to be addressed in the long term and from the ground up. Already the MAABN has been instrumental in highlighting the need for more international sections in local schools and we hope to see many others in the wake of pioneering establishments such as Lycée St. Charles and Collège J. Monod. A very interesting article on the subject by the Collège J. Monod’s Heather Bainbridge can be read here.

The conference concluded with a pledge to create a working group or mini think-tank of interested parties that will make proposals for future actions to take the debate further. One such action already finalised will take place at the Forum International PACA at Parc Chanot on June 11th and 12th, where UCCCAB members will be presenting workshops on language and inter-cultural issues.Olivier (Large)

Marseille Provence Airport, naturally very concerned by the subject, was kind enough to provide refreshments as discussions continued informally at the end of the debate.

It should also be pointed out that the MAABN will be supporting the Journée Européenne des Langues (JEL) on September 26th.

Clearly, the ball is rolling!

We would like to thank the UCCCAB, Marseille Provence Airport, La Boate and our caterer for the evening, Table Appart.


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