PETALING JAYA: A research study has confirmed that there is a correlation between English language skills and the salary gap between those who are proficient in the language and those who are not.
A study by research organisation Euromonitor International for the British Council states that the learning of the English language could increase the earning power of individuals in developing countries by approximately 25%.
The report, which was published in December 2010, shows that workers with solid English language skills are in the best position to take the fullest advantage of new opportunities in rapidly developing economies in the five countries selected for the research, namely Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Cameroon and Rwanda.
In Nigeria, the report states that the salary of non-English and English speakers can differ by as much as 25%-30% on average in favour of English speakers, according to trade interviews with 30 companies.
While the French language is dominant in Rwanda, the government switched from French to English in its education system in 2008 because of a growing importance in the English language.
Professional recruitment consultancy Robert Walters Malaysia countrymanager Sally Raj said English language proficiency could increase personal earning power.
“This is particularly true for professionals within a client-facing role where communication skills are vital, good English skills will help them articulate and sell their ideas better. It will also aid them in working in a multinational corporation, where they need to communicate with various nationalities,” she said.
She also agreed that higher English language proficiency would help attract and increase foreign direct investment (FDI) into Malaysia.
“Most foreign multinationals look for professionals who they are able to train for the role, meaning that higher English language proficiency would be one of the key factors that would draw them to Malaysia,” she said.
“Employees with good English communication skills tend to be more confident and thus representing the organisation better, putting the organisation in a positive light. Therefore, these employees are able to gain higher positions in the organisation,” he said.
Accenture Human Resources Lead for Malaysia Chua Chai Pingsaid while English was one of the main languages used in institutions of higher learning and businesses worldwide, employers were facing difficulties finding local graduates with an adequate standard of English proficiency.