Australia is renowned for its cultural diversity, particularly in the major cities, yet only 21 per cent of the population speak more than one language. With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that employers view this fifth of the country as attractive prospects in the workforce.
The job market is as competitive as ever and employees sift through countless CVs when trying to fill positions. A second language is a sure-fire way to standing out from other applicants, regardless of the role. Even if the company deals exclusively with English-speaking clients and customers, a second language demonstrates a willingness to commit time and effort to learning.
One of the key benefits of being bi-lingual is the prospect of travelling overseas for work. Being able to communicate with people from other cultures is a great attribute to have and will ensure you are a prime candidate for liaising with stakeholders from other countries. It is especially advantageous if you are working for an international company with offices located around the globe.
Lateral career movement
The modern workforce requires flexible employees who aren’t limited to one industry. Journalism grads work in public relations and marketing, while arts students can wind up working in data analysis. You may be lacking some of the skills required for a position but if being bi-lingual is crucial to the role, the employer might be willing to take a chance and train you up on those areas.
What is the best second language to learn?
Considering China is Australia’s leading two-way trading partner, Mandarin would arguably be the best language to learn from a career perspective. It would also be wise to take note of the languages spoken by the world’s top three emerging economies – India (Hindi), Indonesia (Indonesian) and Malaysia (Malaysian).