PESE- Professional English Skills For Employability Across EU

Unemployment in the EU remains a serious issue to tackle and this project highlights the development of language skills and how that can help in reducing unemployment, a notion shared by the EC: “Foreign language proficiency is one of the main determinants of learning and professional mobility, as well as of domestic and international employability” (European Commission 2012).

The ability to effectively communicate at work is one of the 21st Century Skills demanded by employees. Feeling confident and competent in a foreign language plays a vital role in enhancing employability and mobility. The English language is so widely used in the EU and around the world in general that gaining some mastery of it provides the user with clear employment advantages. There are some studies that suggest that the probability of being employed when a candidate has appropriate English skills in some cases increases by up to 12%.. In a 2016 survey on foreign language skills Eurostat reports that ‘It was common to find that employed persons had the highest level of foreign language proficiency when compared with the shares recorded among unemployed and inactive persons of the same age.’

The typical activities employers usually require from their English-speaking employees are writing and answering emails and handling telephone calls which require a special form of professional language that state school does not provide. On top of that, many English users are required by their employers to attend meetings, give presentations and handle negotiations – all in English. Again, these all require a special set of linguistic skills, not to mention cultural awareness. Generally, these topics come under the banner of ‘Business English’ to which access is usually restricted to the middle and upper management personnel or financially healthy companies. In other words, the unemployed have no access to this education. For the unemployed student seeking presentation skills for university, for the charity organiser attending meetings in Brussels, for the Erasmus + participant negotiating with partner organisations, for the mediator engaged in peace talks all these professional English skills would be invaluable. As well as set functional phrases and idioms, there are the soft skills – rapport-building, summarising, back-channeling and body language – that enable success in these activities. For presentations alone there are numerous to make them impactful with signposting, hooks and an understanding of word and sentence stress.

The objectives are:

  • Make high quality professional English training available for specifically unemployed citizens across Europe.
  • Produce a sensible ready-to-go framework for a curriculum for professional English that can have an impact on language teachers and trainers.
  • Upskill unemployed citizens with professional English skills that are actually required by employers.

Check out the Project Results:

Erasmus + Program (European Union)

Project Reference
2020-1-UK01-KA202- 079035

09/11/2020 to 30/09/2022

24 months


  • Professor Ana Cunha (Lead Researcher)
  • Professor Anabela Mateus

The project brings together 5 entities from 6 European Union countries listed below

  • Eurospeak Language Schools Ltd (United Kingdom)
  • Macdac Engineering Consultancy Bureau LTD – MECB (Malta)
  • Asociatia TEAM 4 Excellence (Romania)
  • CSI Center for Social Innovation LTD (Cyprus)
  • Babel Idioma y Cultura S.L. (Spain)
  • Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias (Portugal)

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