Bilingual Skills: A Means to Strengthen the Costa Rican Economy

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    According to reports from the Costa Rican Coalition of Development Initiatives (CINDE), during 2022 more than 22,000 new jobs were generated and, as of March 2023, 3,500 jobs were created, both with the requirement of mastering at least 2 languages.

    In 2022, the EF English Proficiency Index ranked Costa Rica in second place in Latin America in English proficiency (followed by Cuba, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Chile) and number 37 in the world out of a total of 111 countries. Faced with this reality, the issue of bilingualism becomes relevant and promotes a strategic value within companies that are or start operations in Costa Rica.

    Marianella Núñez, rector of ULACIT, commented that the relationship between the level of English in a country and its economic performance helps to improve the financial situation of professionals, since they receive better salaries. She also listed some of the aspects that reinforce the current demand for language proficient professionals:

    Globalization- Globalization has led to an increase in trade and relations between countries of different languages and cultures. As a result, there is a greater need for professionals who can communicate with people from different parts of the world in their native language.

    Labor competence- Bilingual professionals have the competitive advantage of being able to communicate with a broader and more diverse audience, standing out from others who only speak one language.

    Internationalization of companies- Many companies around the world are expanding with branches and subsidiaries in different countries, requiring people who can serve these markets and with the ability to relate fluidly with the organization and customers.

    Greater demand for services- As the population becomes more diverse, there is a greater demand for services in different languages. Bilingual professionals are essential in sectors such as technology, health, services, education, social and government services, where communication with people of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds is required.

    “A country that graduates professionals with a second language strengthens its economy, by being able to communicate effectively with international companies and clients. This can lead to increased business opportunities and therefore increased exports, foreign investment and jobs. At ULACIT, we are proud to be the only bilingual university in the country and to contribute to the fact that more than 5,000 of our students have benefited from our teaching format and are now professionals in a globalized environment”, added Núñez.

    Educational institutions must reinforce language learning to meet the demand for employment

    According to the expert, Costa Rica has made progress in language management; however, there is a demand for professionals and, given the low supply of candidates, recruiters have found it difficult to fill these spaces with the appropriate profile; which represents a talent shortage of 71%, that is, 7 out of 10 employers, this according to a survey carried out by Manpower Group on hiring expectations for Q2 2023.

    For this reason, it is important that private and public institutions reinforce quality training according to the needs and development of the labor force, with the aim of becoming a more competitive country, and thus the new generations have more job opportunities. “Globalization has accelerated this demand to be bilingual or trilingual, since there are new types of companies that allow you to work from anywhere in the world. Therefore, the solution to meet these needs is to teach quality English from preschool. Today, the labor market is pointing to multilingualism”, concluded Núñez.

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