The Value of Intercultural Skills in the Workplace

Intercultural Skills is becoming a buzzword in educational and work environments, but why do employers value such skills? And which specific skills are employers actually looking for? British Council, together with Ipsos and Booz Allen Hamilton (a market research and consulting company, respectively), recently conducted a study on the Value of Intercultural Skills in the Workplace which addressed these particular questions.

The study found that “employers are under strong pressure to find employees who are not only technically proficient, but also culturally astute and able to thrive in a global work environment.” 

The intercultural skills that where shown to be most important were:
  • The ability to understand different cultural contexts and viewpoints
  • Demonstrating respect for others
  • Knowledge of a foreign language
And these skills were so highly valued because employees with them:
  • Brought in new clients
  • Worked well within diverse teams
  • Supported a good brand and reputation for their organization
The study also suggested that policy makers and education providers could contribute to the development of these intercultural skills by prioritizing:
  • Teaching communication skills
  • Offering foreign language classes
  • Opportunities for students to gain international experience
These results from British Council’s study provide further justification for the importance of developing intercultural skills and sensitivity to differences – especially for the younger generations who have not yet entered the job market.
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AFS is proud to have a long history of providing opportunities for its audiences to develop intercultural skills – as an exchange student, host family, volunteer, or staff! Read about the AFS Educational Goals and the Intercultural Link Learning Program as examples of how AFS activity contributes to this global theme.
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