Aaltodoc publication archive (Aalto University institutional repository)
School of Business | Department of Management and International Business | International Business | 2014
Thesis number: 13633
Foreign language competence in today's working life - An empirical research on the effect of foreign language skills on employees' working life in Finland: employee perspective
|Title:||Foreign language competence in today's working life - An empirical research on the effect of foreign language skills on employees' working life in Finland: employee perspective|
|Year:||2014 Language: eng|
|Department:||Department of Management and International Business|
|Academic subject:||International Business|
|Index terms:||kansainväliset yhtiöt; international companies; työ; work; työntekijät; workers; kielitaito; language proficiency; yritysviestintä; business communication; Suomi; Finland|
|Key terms:||language proficiency; kielitaito; working life; työelämä; professional competence; language competence; common corporate language; multilingualism|
The purpose of this study is to gain insight into "language as a professional competence" and its role in employees working life and jobs. The context of the research is Finland, specifically Western Finland, where a lot of Swedish-speakers reside. The main objective is to investigate the effects of language skills on employees' working life and do the perceived language skills of the individuals impact the results. The study aims to hear the voice of the employees and understand whether language skills play a role in their career paths in Finland.
The chosen method was to use qualitative content analysis as it provided the most suitable tool for evaluating individuals' perceptions of the effect of language skills in their working lives. A survey was sent to the Levón Institute in Vaasa, and the qualitative responses were analyzed in depth. Different categories and subcategories were found with the help of coding, i.e. the author identified in which ways language skills were perceived to affect individuals' working lives and jobs (e.g. categories such as "getting recruited", "receiving tasks" and "attending training" were found).
The findings show that language skills have clear effects on employees' working life in Finland. Ultimately language skills were found to impact individuals' job opportunities, skills development, task diversity and work relationships. Being proficient in both national languages (Finnish and Swedish) and in the official business language (English) helped the individuals to be successful in their jobs and receive more responsibility at work. A central theme was "language anxiety" and "courage to use languages", which portrayed how closely tied language skills are to confidence. The language proficiency levels of the respondents affected the perceptions: people who had high proficiency levels saw the positive effects, whereas people with low proficiency levels did not believe language skills mattered that much in their working life or jobs.
In sum, language skills can be considered as an essential skill set for employees in Finland, especially if one wants to receive interesting international tasks and responsibility. Individuals in management and expert positions, and who are 30-65 years old, believe language skills are a central competency to be successful.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.