Bilingual professionals in the workforce
The National Policy on Languages (Lo Bianco 1987) seeks to promote the importance and benefit of the the learning and maintenance of languages other than English for Australia’s economic development and achievement of greater social justice and equity in service delivery. In response to the policy this paper reports on research undertaken to assess the use of languages other than English (LOTE) and attitudes to their use in the professional workforce in Australia. Data collected focuses on organizations in sectors where interaction with non-English speaking clients takes place. Two groups of professionals (professionals within organizations and recent graduates with language majors) and one of management of organizations were surveyed. Results reported cover languages and how they are used and the extent of recognition of the value of LOTE. Whilst findings indicate considerable levels of use of LOTE, they also highlight inconsistencies in the views of management, a lack of awareness of the extent and nature of LOTE use and a devaluing of LOTE skills.