What's it all about?
Although not a job sector in itself there are a huge number and variety of roles for which being able to speak at least one foreign language is either desirable or essential. Language skills are in demand and can be used in almost any career, particularly with businesses that trade internationally. The UK is looking to sell products and services globally, particularly in the post-Brexit era, and there has never been a better time to develop your language skills.
A Confederation of British Industy's (CBI) report in July 2016 states that the languages most in demand by businesses are the major EU languages of French, German and Spanish.
As well as roles within business there are also opportunities in many of the other job sectors.
Working hours can be varied and flexible depending on the type of organisation you are working for and the sector it operates within. You may also get the opportunity to live and work abroad, travelling between different countries for some roles, e.g. as a translator.
Business and Admin sector
Businesses need to be able to buy and/or sell their products and services globally and with that there is a need to have some members of their workforce that are able to speak more than just English. European languages like French, Spanish and German are in demand but equally some businesses need to trade with countries that are further afield, i.e China.
In post Brexit Britain it is even more likely that businesses will need to diversify and attract business from other countries, resulting in an increased demand for even more language skills in the population.
Find out more information in the Business and Administration sector
Education, Training and Childcare
A second language would be useful in teaching, at primary, secondary and college level. According to the British Council almost all English primary schools were teaching some foreign languages 2015-2016 and many secondary schools offer French, German and/or Spanish, with some offering other languages like Mandarin and Urdu.
If you would like to work abroad there are many opportunities for working as an English teacher - see English as a Foreign Language teacher (Efl) for more details
Find out more information in the Education, Training and Childcare sector
The Armed Forces rely on people with language skills when they are based abroad, and in the UK some roles, like Operator Technical Intelligence will use language skills to collect and analyse information from other countries, to provide the intelligence picture during operations. There are a variety of roles within the Public Services sector that could take you far afield into exciting situations and a langauage would be a real asset!
Find out more about these types of roles in the Public Services sector
Law and Politics
The ability to speak a second language could be very useful in certain roles within the law and politics sector, with many solicitors/lawyers having to handle cases that may involve foreign nationals or foreign law. A patent attorney is one such job where it is advantageous to have a working knowledge of French and German as both are the official languages (alongside English) of the European Patent Office (EPO).
Travel and Tourism
The travel and tourism job sector is perhaps the most obvious sector that relies on workers having more than one language. There are a number of roles where having a second language would be essential, whilst for others it would be less crucial to be fluent. Again within this sector there are many opportunities for you to travel around with your work and experience a variety of different cultures.