Looking for work in the UK? Is your native language in high demand?

Looking for work in the UK? Is your native language in high demand?

Foreign workers can bring a lot to UK businesses. Employers value them for their ability to plug skills gaps, bring on board a new perspective and, unsurprisingly, speak a different language.

Many businesses and organisations in the UK have to deal with partners, suppliers and customers overseas; such as importers and exporters, recruiters, marketers, financial service firms, banks and universities – to name just a few.

Being from overseas yourself can really help you stand out in the job market; while there are many talented bilinguals in the UK, you have the cultural background that goes along with the language, giving you a much greater understanding of the peoples and markets internationally trading businesses based in the UK need to engage with.

So which languages are the most in demand? We take a look at some of the most popular foreign languages required by British businesses.

Japanese and Chinese are the most lucrative languages in the British jobs market

According to job listings, roles that required a Japanese speaker were the highest paying of any for a foreign-language speaker in the UK during 2016, followed closely by those stipulating someone who can speak one of the Chinese dialects.

The Asian languages have overtaken European languages for dominance of the table, which is perhaps a sign that UK businesses are beginning to shift their focus away from Europe to other markets as the Brexit process progresses.

With businesses unsure whether or not they will still have the same relationship with their counterparts in Europe following March 2019, many are starting to probe the lucrative Japanese and Chinese markets, contributing to an uptick in demand for people who can speak their domestic languages.

French and German are most popular European languages requested in UK job advertising

While UK businesses may be looking to pastures new for opportunities in post-Brexit Britain, they aren’t cutting ties with the European Union completely. After all, Germany is the UK’s number one source of imports and the country’s second-largest export market, while France is the fifth largest source of imports and the third biggest export market.

It’s therefore not surprising to see that French and German are the third and fourth best paid languages in the UK respectively.

In 2016 the UK exported nearly £50 billion worth of goods and services to Germany, while importing just over £75 billion worth. Trade with France during the same period was more balanced, with exports totalling just under £34 billion, while imports reached almost £38 billion.

All that trade supports a lot of jobs and requires a lot of communication – that’s where you could come in.

The other European languages making the top 10 are Spanish (in 6th place), Italian (7th), Portuguese (8th) and Polish (9th, only just missing out on the 8th spot).

Arabic claims fifth spot of the best paid foreign languages in the UK

Considering the wide number of countries that speak Arabic, it is not surprising that it makes our top 10 list. In 2016 the UK imported £8.1 billion worth of goods and services from the Residual Gulf Arabian countries, while the region was one of the most important trade partners for Great Britain, receiving exports totalling £17.1 billion.

In fact, excluding trade with the European Union, these nations are the second most important export destination for the UK, after the United States. On top of this, Saudi Arabia alone received £6.2 billion worth of UK goods.

Not on the list? That doesn’t mean you’re not in demand

If your mother tongue, or the official language of your homeland, hasn’t been included here, don’t despair. These are just the languages that are most popular amongst employers overall, but the most in demand languages change on a region-by-region, or even city-by-city, basis.

Regardless of what language (or languages) you speak, as an expat from overseas you bring with you many qualities which will appeal to UK employers.


Wear your heritage proudly on your CV and you will be able to make the most of what the UK labour market has to offer!

With thanks to Currencies Direct – check out their site





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