Scotland: Chinese classes to fly flag for Scottish growth

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun May 11 21:07:45 UTC 2008

Chinese classes to fly flag for Scottish growth

Date: 11 May 2008
By Rosemary Gallagher

SCOTLAND is stepping up its efforts to tap into the booming Chinese
economy by offering schoolchildren national qualifications in Mandarin
and Cantonese for the first time. The Scottish Qualifications
Authority (SQA) hopes 200 candidates will complete the first courses
by 2010 and that the initiative will appeal to businesses targeting
the Chinese market. From August, pupils can study for intermediate
level qualifications in Mandarin and Cantonese and next year Higher
and Advanced Higher grades will be offered as part of the Scottish
Government's Stronger Engagement with China policy. Having a pool of
Chinese speakers will help Scottish businesses trade with China, whose
economy grew by 11.5% in 2007.

Several Scottish companies, such as Standard Life, Royal Bank of
Scotland and Weir Group, already do business with China or have set up
joint ventures. But some say deeper understanding of the culture and
language would improve opportunities.

Lin Lau, head of Asia Pacific development at Standard Life, said:
"We've had our insurance joint venture since 2004 and we're looking
for Mandarin speakers at the moment. We would prefer to have a pool of
people to choose from to work in such areas as pensions and product

"Having language speakers means we don't have to employ translators.
Knowing the language helps people understand the culture better, as
things can be missed out in translation."

Last month China Now in Scotland was launched with the China-Britain
Business Council to encourage links between the two countries.

Sir David Brewer, chairman of the China-Britain Business Council,
said: "Whether investing in China, selling to China, outsourcing or
simply sharing expertise, more and more companies recognise that it is
the market to be in.

"Being well versed in the language will stand any company doing
business in good stead, as the market continues to open up."

He said he applauded the initiative to teach Chinese languages in
Scotland's schools. "China is not just the market of the future, it is
the market of now, and the more people in the business world who are
able to deal in Chinese the better it will be for Scotland."

SQA chief executive Janet Brown said there is a demand for Chinese
speakers from Scottish firms.

"Most businesses who are targeting places like China recognise the
benefits of having someone who fully understands the language and can
participate in the Chinese aspects of the discussion as well as what's
conducted in English.

"Companies realise that people who truly know the language know the
culture and therefore know how to do business in that country."

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