Tourism and Events Research Hub

UKinbound Breaking the Language Barrier Research


UKinbound Breaking the Language Barrier Research

Project: ‘Breaking the Language Barrier: Equipping our Tourism Workforce for the UK’s Future’ (Dr Karen Thomas, Dr Julie Scott, Dr Marion Stuart-Hoyle, Lorna Thomas)

Date: 2018

Client: UKinbound 


For the tourism and hospitality sector, language skills are vital. The value of foreign modern languages relates not just to linguistic skills, but to enhanced intercultural awareness and understanding; providing the foundation from which workers within the sector can improve their ‘soft skills’ and help raise the UK’s reputation for welcome. As the inbound tourism industry strives to continue to grow strong international markets for UK tourism, Brexit has pushed the sector to a critical point, where they not only have to consider the value of EU workers, but evaluate the potential of home-grown talent to meet future recruitment needs.

Research undertaken by the Tourism and Events Hub, for leading travel trade association UKinbound, highlights the current lack of capacity in the UK’s education system to meet the shortfall in higher level language skills which are needed by the UK’s inbound tourism industry.

This study presents a supply-focused audit and analysis of the potential talent pool about to enter into career pathways with business proficient language skills, some with additional tourism and/or hospitality specialisms, and the landscape from which this emerges. This was achieved through an Evidence Review to explore what is currently influencing education provision and attainment in language skills in the UK, focusing on recent Government policy and post-16 language teaching in schools and the HE sector, as we move towards a post-Brexit era. Supplementing this was an Audit of Higher Education provision in the UK, focusing on two contrasting areas of provision: Tourism and hospitality programmes to identify provision for language learning within programme structures and modern language degree programmes to explore the visibility of tourism and hospitality as a career pathway.

The Breaking the Language Barrier: Equipping our Tourism Workforce for the UK’s Future report was launched by UKinbound at a Parliamentary Reception on 19 June as part of UKinbound’s Brexit Campaign. Read the research report here.

“UKinbound worked in partnership with CCCU in 2018 to produce a new report exploring the current and future levels of modern language skill take up in the UK and the impact on the UK tourism industry. From the start, the team at CCCU were very easy to work with. They were professional, methodical and fulfilled the brief perfectly. I would not hesitate to recommend or use Karen and her team of researchers again.”

Deirdre Wells, CEO of UKinbound
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