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Languages, Information and Culture

Future Trends

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Cultural heritage

  • There are plans to increase the number of creative industry Apprenticeships over the next few years to help develop the right skills and experience for the workforce
  • Currently there is a rising interest in museums, historic homes, castles and other heritage sites and this is predicted to continue - although if the current system of free admissions is changed in the near future because of Government cutbacks and the loss of subsidies this may put pressure on visitor numbers and vacancies in the sector
  • The volunteer workforce is also significant in this sector and this may grow in the future if there are significant financial cutbacks.


  • The main employers of information staff - especially library and archive staff - are local authorities.  With cuts in Local Authority budgets hitting libraries it may be that this area is affected in the future. There are also currently Big Society plans which include using more volunteers in the library sector.


  • For any language jobs it is important to look at the sort of languages that are in demand and are growing to make sure that the language you are studying is the best for future prospects
  • It may also help to look at the size of the populations or numbers of countries that speak a language you are thinking about studying as this may affect your chances of using the language in a job.  The CILT site has collected figures from the website.


  • There are currently 221 million people with Arabic as their first language
  • It is the fourth most spoken language in the world
  • Arabic is spoken in 57 different countries
  • Developing financial markets in the Middle East have led to some employers recruiting staff with Arabic language skills, along with an understanding of the culture of business in the Arab world.


  • There are currently 67.8 million people with French as their first language
  • It is spoken in 60 countries around the world. Most native speakers live in France, but there are also a high number living in Quebec (Canada), Switzerland, Belgium and a number of African countries
  • French is one of the official languages of the European Union, and is the official language of three political centres of the Union: Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg City. It is also a very useful language within any businesses operating in European markets
  • In a recent skills survey, it was revealed that amongst employers specifically looking for employees with language skills, French and German remain the most sought after languages.


  • There are currently 90.3 million people with German as their first language
  • It is spoken in 43 countries around the world
  • It is the most widely spoken first language in the European Union and accounts for 4% of internet use
  • In a recent skills survey, it was revealed that amongst employers specifically looking for employees with language skills, French and German remain the most sought after languages.


  • There are currently 61.7 million people with Italian as their first language
  • It is spoken in 34 countries around the world including the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and former Italian colonies such as Somalia and Libya. It is the official language of Italy, but also San Marino, Switzerland, parts of Slovenia and the Vatican City as well
  • Italian is one of the major six languages in the European Union and is present in business affairs not only in Europe but globally
  • There are over 28.8 million Italian-speaking people online worldwide with about 10 million living in Italy. Italian speaking users represent 2.7% of all worldwide internet users today.


  • There are currently 122 million people with Japanese as their first language
  • It is spoken in 25 countries around the world
  • It accounts for 6% of all internet traffic.

 Mandarin Chinese

  • There are currently 845 million people with Mandarin as their first language, making it the most spoken language in the world
  • It is the most spoken of around 12 Chinese languages
  • As China becomes increasingly prominent within the global economy, Mandarin is increasing in importance across the world. Chinese (most often Cantonese and Mandarin) accounts for more and more internet traffic. In 2000 this stood at 5%. This figure has now risen to 20%
  • According to recent studies, 38% of UK firms are interested in people who can speak Cantonese or Mandarin, in order to build business links with China.


  • There are currently 178 million people with Portuguese as their first language, mostly based in Brazil, Portugal and former Portuguese colonies such as East Timor and Macau. It is also the official language of Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe and Mozambique, and is spoken in 37 countries around the world
  • Portuguese is increasingly cited by employers looking to employ people with language skills, as Brazil is growing in importance economically. Some people are campaigning to add Portuguese to the list of 6 official languages of the United Nations (English, Mandarin, French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian)
  • In 2016, the Olympic Games will be held in a Portuguese-speaking country for the first time when Rio de Janeiro hosts the 31st Summer Games.


  • 329 million people speak Spanish as their first language - making it the second most spoken language in the world after Mandarin
  • Spanish is spoken in 44 countries worldwide and is the fourth most widely used language on the internet
  • Spanish speaking countries represent 6% of the world GDP. The total value of business between Spain and the UK is approximately £21.2 billion per annum. The value of UK exports to the 19 Spanish-speaking nations of Latin America is approximately £1.9 billion
  • Spanish accounts for 8% of internet traffic (up from 6% in 2000).


  • Russian is spoken by almost 300 million people worldwide
  • Russian is the most widely spoken of the 'Slavic' languages - and is the fourth most popular language on the planet
  • Although it used to be the official language of the Soviet Union, Russian is still taught a lot in ex-Soviet republics like Belarus and Ukraine.