Bilingual young adults fare significantly better in the job market than native speakers with only one language, reports The Conversation.

But while your career prospects can be significantly improved there is still a dispute as to whether being bilingual can improve your brain power, too.

Within Europe and across most of the world, bilingualism is the norm and actively encouraged throughout education. Are European employees at an advantage when it comes to securing sought-after roles, and how well does knowing more than one language really boost your career prospects?

Which languages are most useful for business?

The general consensus among career and industry experts is that the most useful languages to learn are Mandarin-Chinese and Spanish.

The chart below shows how Chinese is fast becoming a dominant language globally and looks to be cementing its place in the top two.

A full understanding of the Chinese language also goes a long way to bridging the cultural gap between East and West. When considering international partnerships and possible trade opportunities, learning Mandarin-Chinese looks to be a good idea.

Spanish is also another language that offers you maximum career potential. Consider Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Spain itself and there is wide scope for where your career can take you.

Spanish speaking nations reflect an enormous market the world over so you’d be well advised to seriously consider this option. If you can offer an employer a lucrative route into another booming economy you will be a whole lot more employable.

On a practical front, learning Spanish is also an attractive proposition. Its written forms are much more uniform than other languages so in theory it is simpler to learn than many others.

Benefits of being bilingual

In a report published by The Atlantic, it was suggested that multi-linguals are not only more perceptive to their surroundings they are also far better at focusing in on important information.

With benefits like this it is hardly surprising bilingual employees are in high demand in almost every business sector today.

Research surrounding the topic of bilingualism also points towards bilingualism improving later-life cognition and that it could also play a key role in delaying the onset of dementia later in life.

This research suggests that bilingualism has far reaching benefits that can even improve your general health.
There is also a school of thought that points towards bilingualism actually altering and changing your mind and brain. The report highlights the “remarkable ways” that bilingualism changes brain networks. These changes included skilled cognition and the ability to facilitate new learning.

Which nation is best?

Luxembourg leads the way when it comes to knowing at least one foreign language. As the chart below shows, an impressive 99% of the population do just that.

It could be argued that the UK and America are behind their European counterparts. Many European countries require their students to learn two foreign languages in school for at least one school year.

Through this drive to encourage the learning of a second language, are these EU countries preparing their future workforce far better than anywhere else in the world?

What next for jobs?

Acquiring a second language will not necessarily ‘guarantee’ success but it will set you apart from the sea of equally or even more qualified job applicants.

In today’s increasingly globalised economy it is definitely worth considering the many benefits that learning a second language brings. 

Increased cognitive function, the ability to learn faster and higher levels of perception could also go a long way to setting you apart from the crowd even further.

Don’t be afraid, it could be the best career decision you ever make.