The newspapers have been swamped with an alarming number of redundancies, and of even more concern have been the protests based in some industrial areas against the use of migrant workers for British jobs.
We should remind ourselves that non British nationals have helped many British businesses work internationally, particularly when skills for language speakers have been short.
Our universities and schools have been criticised for their lack of support in promoting the importance of learning languages and we are often approached by university graduates who are monolingual. Competitive edge is offered to those that are bilingual or multilingual as now many jobs where language are required can be found in pretty much most businesses including public sector, education, local & national government, export, pharmaceutical, medical firms, professional consultancies, translation and, let us not forget, financial services.
In the midst of all the bad news we must remind ourselves that every cloud has a silver lining. In this case this comes in the form of the 2012 Olympics.
Many UK firms will be planning to target our international visitors and also make the most of any business opportunities that may arise as a result of planning and preparation for 2012. We need to be able to demonstrate that we are competent international hosts. This means not only being able to speak the languages of the world but also being able to work and understand the cultural elements to making the whole process a success.
In a critical, tight economy, it has never been more important to understand that having a greater knowledge of our own and other cultures will help us build good working relationships and who knows, we may be pleasantly surprised to see an increase in the proportion of bilingual or multilingual jobs in London over the next 2-3 years.