Importance of English in employment

Strong influence:Globalisation has encouraged the domestic cos to think beyond t
Last Updated : 15 May 2012, 14:33 IST
Last Updated : 15 May 2012, 14:33 IST

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As we know, English is the language which connects people from different regions, cultures and nations. By default, due to the fact that the British ruled most parts of the world a few years ago, they could conveniently sow the seeds of English language and culture in those countries. Though not intended, the British gave a common language to the world. It has helped the world in sharing any kind of information fast and clear without any translation. Though the British left their colonies a long time back, their efforts and reforms in the field of education are yielding results now.

Globalisation has encouraged the domestic companies to think beyond their nations. People don’t mind taking challenging and fruitful overseas assignments these days. As English is spoken in most of the countries, language is no more a barrier for people who intend to settle down in other countries.

Though English originated in Great Britain, it is used in different versions across nations in which it is spoken. American English varies a little in spelling and pronunciation from British English.

Standard English

The pronunciation of Indian English varies from region to region according to the influence of one’s vernacular. So the questions that arise are what is the standard form of English? Is it British English? Or American English? Or Indian English, with its variety due to the strong influence of regional languages?

Till the time of globalisation, British English was considered as Standard English.
But the strength of the American economy, its advancement in science and technology, its power over other countries and the emergence and popularity of e-language, American English is largely followed by the tech savvy countries as well as the countries which are dependant on technologies of these.

Tool for employability

India too has contributed a good number of vocabularies to the modern English language and which have become a part of standard dictionaries.

As the private sector companies are gaining ground and becoming more competitive due to changed world economy, the employees are always kept on their toes. It is like either you work hard and show your performance or perish for not taking care of your professional growth. The ability to use a language efficiently is very much required to remain employable. What is employability? It is the ability to remain employable as a result of the relevant skills one possesses. Communication skills are very much essential for one’s professional growth. The ability to express fluently in both written as well as oral form of language is very much essential for the career growth.

As it is stated above, English being the most commonly used language in the corporate world; the knowledge of English is one of the most important employability skills. Knowledge of English is much sought after in the corporate world. Proper English does not mean only the ability to make grammatically correct sentences. It means other related skills for effective communication like presentation skills, convincing and negotiation skills and interpersonal skills using that language.

Employability skills

Communication means the exchange of information, ideas, feelings and thoughts. The type of communication which is used in the corporate world is business communication. It is not mere exchange of ideas. In the world of business the communication system is considered effective, only if there is some positive transaction. If the sender of information is just able to convey the message without any fruitful deal, then the communication is not effective.

A person is considered employable only when he gets the necessary qualification, experience, interest, learning attitude and expertise in the field where he wants to seek employment.

The content knowledge in the area of his choice is the primary requirement. The necessary experience, if not, the interest and the attitude to learn the job assignments are much sought after by the employers. A person has to remain employable throughout one’s career. Unless one is ready to update his knowledge in the filed of work according to the ongoing changes and advancements, he lags behind from others and loses his job ultimately.

Effective communication includes the ability to communicate effectively in any language. Academicians and researchers are divided in their opinion on the question; is English required for successful business communication? Is it not possible to communicate effectively in regional languages and get the work done? Those who are in favour of English for effective communication would say that English is the official language in most of the companies in cities these days.

So English is much required. But people who vote for regional languages for communication over English would rather say that English is not required as long as one communicates effectively to get the work done. The customers, for most of the products and services are people of a particular region where a local language is spoken. So what big deal in speaking in English to woo and impress them? After all, when it is a matter of money, people would rather concentrate on quality and service for the products than the customer care executive’s ability to speak in English.

The reality is that the companies consider the candidate’s ability or inability to speak fluently in English as one of the major selection criterion. The mere domain knowledge won’t guarantee one a good job. The situation in most of the companies has changed from a scene where all employees are isolated and would concentrate on their individual performances.

‘Team work for better success’ is the mantra followed by most companies. So there is no space for individual glory. Employees are expected to be interactive and communicative with others in the team and outside.

As we have multi-cultural and multi-linguistic work force in the companies, English is the language which connects people by default. It is the language used for official communication; whether it is meeting within or outside, presentations, training, conferences, letters, documents, reports etc. The purpose being people are expected to read, write, speak and understand English.

Communication in English

Communication takes place in two ways; verbal and non-verbal. Verbal communication takes place with the usage of words. 

Non-verbal communication means expression of ideas through gestures, eye contact, postures and body movements.

It is not confined to any language. Verbal communication constitutes oral and written form of communication. Oral communication skills include the ability to speak effectively, listen actively and respond efficiently according to the situation.
It helps in oral presentation, video conferencing, telephonic conversation, meeting, interviews etc. 

Written communication skills means the ability to write effectively and it also includes the ability to read and understand the language used for communication.
If a person is labeled as good communicator in English, he is supposed to be master in oral as well as written form of English.

There are a good number of people in rural as well as urban parts of India who are literate in regional language medium, but they are highly successful. The point to be made is that in the changed scenario of globalisation, liberalisation and free movement of people, more and more multinational companies are coming to India naturally English has gained importance as one of the basic requirement to be employable in the corporate sectors.  If the companies don’t build workforce who are fluent in English, then they remain confined to one particular regional level. They may lose contact with the rest of the world. If there is no common language to connect the workforce, it becomes difficult for any kind of communication and team work.

Corporate expectations

As the ability to speak and write in English is considered very important by the recruiters at the time of recruitment, let us discuss the expectations of corporate world in this regard. Companies want people who can basically read and understand written words in the form of instructions, reports, letters, memos, notices and other any form of official documents.

The ability to express formal communication in oral as well as in written form is equally considered important by the prospective employers. As one moves higher in the vertical direction in the organisational hierarchy, it becomes naturally necessary for an employee to be good presenter, negotiator, and convener of meetings. The mastery over English will help a person to conduct his duties efficiently.
One of the important deficiencies found by the employers and recruiters in candidates for different jobs is the lack of oral as well as written communication skills.

Many candidates don’t know how to answer to the point at the time of the interview and can’t phrase a simple formal letter or report. It becomes a handicap for the candidates who have good domain knowledge.

Interviewers will be in dilemma when they encounter such candidates who have technical expertise, but poor communicational skills in English. Left with no other choice they may take the candidate, but will make sure that they are groomed and trained properly.

Employers would be happy to interview and recruit who have both communication skills in English and job skills. It lessens their burden of giving too much orientation training at the time of induction or on the job training.

English language training

Due to the emerging demand for communication skills in English and the remarkably poor level of English taught in the regional medium schools in India, the students constantly try to get outside help in the form of spoken English classes, training programs, and finishing schools.

The number of such institutions is mushrooming due to the increasing market demand. But unfortunately many training centres don’t have proper language teachers. So students don’t get what they expect to get. But, whatever is the result of teaching; such institutes have become good money making entities. These organisations survive on the sentiments and insecurity feeling of the regional language medium students.

In order to cater to the demands of regional language medium students in their efforts to get good jobs in the corporate world, governments should bring changes in the English language syllabus at least in graduation level.

The emphasis should be on functional English usage exercises. The syllabus should focus on practical oriented exercises and real life situations than mere study of literature.

So the need of the hour is strengthening the English speaking ability of the present generation to have an edge over other developing countries.

Our BPO sector still has an edge over other countries due to the fact that Indians speak fairly better English compared to other non-native speakers of English. It applies to our IT as well as other related sectors too.

The fact is that we have a large English speaking population, it makes easier for MNCs and foreign universities to do their business here. The knowledge of English is an important employability skill with in India and outside to be employed as well as to move higher in one’s professional life.

(The writer is Assistant Professor, Dept of English, Tumkur University)

Published 15 May 2012, 14:33 IST

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