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English grows apace as workplace language

English grows apace as workplace language

by Heledd PRITCHARD 2 min. 23.08.2021 From our online archive
More than half of jobs agency adverts this year requires English language skills
Boulevard Royal in Luxembourg city centre where many companies in the financial sector are based
Boulevard Royal in Luxembourg city centre where many companies in the financial sector are based
Photo credit: Anouk Antony

English is the only language which employers in Luxembourg increasingly ask for when recruiting, with more than half of all vacancies posted by the country’s job agency this year asking for English-language skills.

In the first half of the year, 60% of adverts from the Adem job agency required applicants to speak English. French was in highest demand with 83% of jobs needing the language, while 46% required German and 35% Luxembourgish.

English is the only language which is asked for more and more, increasing from 52% in 2016, Labour Minister Dan Kersch said in response to a parliamentary question. The demand for French and German remained the same compared with five years ago, while Luxembourgish decreased slightly from 36%.

There are 484,409 people employed in Luxembourg, around 70% of whom are foreigners or cross-border workers, the Adem website states. Almost 90% of the workforce work in the private sector, just under 7% are civil servants and the rest are self-employed, figures from the European Commission show.

Almost half of Luxembourg’s population is made up of foreigners and the number has been increasing steadily for more than 30 years, making room for languages other than the country’s three official languages – Luxembourgish, French and German – in the workplace.

Just over 67% of advertised jobs in the first half of this year required several languages. Knowledge of both English and French was needed in 16% of jobs, Luxembourgish, French, German and English were required in 15% of adverts, while 13% of jobs required the country’s three official languages but no English.

French alone was asked for in 18% of jobs and just English was needed in 13% of vacancies. Less than 1% of jobs asked for German or Luxembourgish alone.

Luxembourg has a law in place requiring doctors, dentists, and other healthcare workers to understand Luxembourgish, French and German, but it is hard to put into practice. Luxembourgers and French nationals are the two largest groups at the Robert Schuman hospital chain, which includes Kirchberg hospital. 

The omnipresence of spoken French means that the more language-savvy nurses and doctors have to work two jobs at once: caring for patients and translating for colleagues.

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Cafe Babel is run by Strassen commune. Photo: Lex Kleren