International students aid UK firms

Firms are being encouraged to hire international postgraduate students to help them avoid cultural blunders when dealing with overseas business contacts.

International students can help UK firms break down language and cultural barriers, Business Secretary Vince Cable has said
International students can help UK firms break down language and cultural barriers, Business Secretary Vince Cable has said

A Government initiative will help firms recruit overseas students to help break down language barriers and avoid potential protocol errors with potential clients.

Under the scheme, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) will match firms with a student from the market they are trying to break into.

UKTI's lead language and cultural adviser Suzannah Hutton said: "Recruiting an international student from the market you are trying to export to can have a dramatic effect on your business - w hether that is undertaking market research, dealing with inquiries that arrive in a foreign language or making sure that you do not make a cultural faux pas when meeting international clients.

"UKTI stands ready to help any business who thinks they could benefit from this service."

International postgraduate students studying in the UK are allowed to work for 20 hours a week in term time and full-time during vacations.

There are around 200,000 non-UK postgraduates studying in the country, along with British students with language skills.

The Government highlighted research from Professor James Foreman-Peck at Cardiff Business School which estimated that as much as £48 billion in international sales is lost every year because of language and cultural barriers.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "The 'Made in Britain' brand opens doors to UK firms around the world but a lack of language and cultural skills slams them shut in their faces.

"Our medium-sized businesses have the potential to be economic powerhouses for the UK but their success is dependant on expanding beyond domestic markets.

"This important new initiative will help firms overcome the barriers that are a drag on growth and compete with the best the rest of the world has to offer."