English fluency: the golden ticket in the world of remote work
Once upon a time, not very long ago, most businesses upheld an office-centric culture. Demanding boots on the ground, companies were limited to hiring employees that could be physically present five days a week, capping their talent pool and offering little flexibility. Now, in the wake of the pandemic, the seismic shift towards remote working has triggered a borderless working world, in which international companies can hire remote employees located anywhere.
With geographical barriers dismantled, competent English language skills have, for the first-time ever, become the main gateway into the global job market. Language barriers are now a primary driver of inequality, and as a result, affordable access to learning new languages is becoming the great leveller.
In the ever-expanding global economy, companies are extending their talent search worldwide. With in-person collaboration no longer a necessity, candidates across the globe can be judged on their excellence, not their postcode. Companies want the highest calibre staff, whether that talent is homegrown or sourced from other continents. Yet, despite this increase in flexibility, a surefire condition that international employers will be looking for is high-level English proficiency.
Today, there are 1.5 billion English speakers worldwide. English is not only the most commonly used language, especially in international business, but also dominates social media and marketing channels, in part because the internet was first developed in the UK and US. When considering a second language to learn, people from every corner of the world often consider English to be the obvious choice.
The inexorable link between English language skills and professional opportunities has been exacerbated by the post-pandemic working model. Now more than ever, English proficiency has the power to turbocharge a person’s career prospects, expanding the job market both within and far beyond their own country’s borders, and improve their potential income brackets, as higher paid jobs typically demand fluency.
In a world where adept English skills are opening up opportunities, conversely, disparities in English learning are having lingering, long-term effects. Not all people are afforded the luxury of comprehensive English teaching, and the learning gap that this creates is in part driving job market inequality.
Expensive and inaccessible language learning is adding fuel to the fire of wealth inequality around the world, widening an already glaring education and achievement gap. As anyone who has used one will know, private tutors do not come cheap.
Those who cannot afford private English tuition typically end up lagging behind their peers, left at a disadvantage when seeking international employment. The issue is cyclical: when richer individuals do better in academia, they then benefit from a different host of professional opportunities made available to them, compounding the link between wealth and career prospects.
By granting anyone, regardless of their background or income, access to high-quality learning, technology is levelling the playing field for learners across the world. This gives anyone the chance to compete in the global talent market, in part correcting the fundamental inequalities of education systems worldwide.
The benefits that technology brings to high-quality language learning are plentiful. From improved fluency to greater confidence, increased self-reliance and an instilled love for learning. With the stamp of English fluency, candidates can make their CVs stand out from the crowd, and as an employee, the intelligence, drive and commitment required to learn a second language makes them an attractive contender. Once hired, being able to clearly express yourself in the most widely used language on the planet makes networking easier, allows you to advocate for yourself at work and makes building relationships with colleagues and potential employers simpler.
Many people would relish the opportunity of 1:1 English tutoring, but in its traditional format, few can afford it. To meet this growing demand, I founded Astrid, an AI-powered language learning app that makes high-quality private English tutoring more accessible and affordable.
Our mission is to make English education available to everyone, not just those who can afford costly private tutoring, with no compromise on quality. We combine entertainment and education to cater to a modern kind of language app user, using AI to improve speaking proficiency and harness the power of 1:1 learning, all at a fraction of the cost of traditional tutoring.
Right now, adept English language skills are a golden ticket to the increasingly competitive, high-paying job market, which in this period of skyrocketing inflation is not only life changing, but potentially life saving too. For the first time in history, individuals are facing an economic downturn, but thanks to remote working, they are not limited by their local economy or market for employment.
With the levelling power of affordable and accessible language learning apps, like Astrid, all candidates, regardless of social circumstance or geographical location, can transform their professional prospects.
By creating an equal and fair learning environment, organisations can then hire the best talent available to them, beyond the constraints of geographical boundaries, in turn diversifying their workforce and reaping the benefits of an interconnected working world.