Which languages offer the greatest job opportunities in the UK?

languagesworldLooking to learn a language? The benefits go far beyond simply being able to chat up attractive members of the opposite sex when on holiday in foreign climes. Speaking a second language gives you an extra skill to offer employers and a clear advantage in the hiring market. But which language offers the greatest career opportunities? Here’s a clue: it’s not Chinese.

Top languages for job offers in the UK

At first sight, the most sought-after languages in the UK are German and French, with Spanish, Italian and Dutch all coming up next. Compare this with job offers for each native speaker of the language in table 2, however, and the picture changes slightly. German still scores as the top second language in terms of opportunities, however in second place is Dutch. A fair way behind, French speakers also enjoy great amounts of opportunities.

Next comes Mandarin, Italian and Spanish, jobs for Italian speakers being slightly easier to find that jobs for Spanish speakers when compared to the number of natives in the UK. Arabic and Portuguese come surprisingly low on the list, and Polish – perhaps due to a very large quantity of native speakers – comes out bottom.

New job offers per week

  1. German – 1168
  2. French – 1001
  3. Spanish – 332
  4. Italian – 300
  5. Dutch – 290
  6. Russian – 159
  7. Polish – 74
  8. Mandarin – 73
  9. Arabic – 66
  10. Portuguese – 62
Job offers per native speaker*

  1. German – 150
  2. Dutch – 108
  3. French – 68
  4. Mandarin – 32
  5. Italian – 32
  6. Spanish – 27
  7. Russian – 23
  8. Portuguese – 5
  9. Arabic – 4
  10. Polish – 1

*Quantity of new job offers per week for each 10,000 native speakers

Which UK cities offer the most job offers for language speakers?

London seems to be by far the nation’s language capital when it comes to jobs, with 33% of offers for the languages included found in the City. The two second-largest cities, Birmingham and Manchester, pale in comparison, with just 1-2% of job offers to be found here. In particular, London is a hotspot for non-European language opportunities, with 55% of Mandarin, 52% of Russian and 41% of Arabic offers to be found here.

It might be worth bearing in mind that smaller areas of the UK have not been extensively analysed in this study – if there are few second language speakers in your local village, you might well find that opportunities are greater.


A final piece of good news for language learners: it seems as though you don’t have to be word-perfect in order to enhance your employment opportunities – according to the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), 74% of employers look for “conversational competence rather than full fluency”, with the ability to “break the ice with potential business partners, customers and clients” valued highly in the business world.

The languages selected have been chosen on the basis that they are some of the most widely-spoken in the UK; please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below if you’d like to know other results. This study has been taken from information from around 20 million job offers in 2012-13 – don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

You might also be interested in our free, downloadable PDF of this study, or the upcoming infographic snapshot version.

Sources: JobisJob database, ONS, NISRACBI. Images: Andrew Smith, Nicolas de Camaret

Penelope for JobisJob

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