Standardising English in Sri Lanka’s Manufacturing and Retail Industry

26 June 2015 02:43 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The English language requirement for various job roles is different. Working with a key player in the Manufacturing and Retail industry, the British Council has embarked on the journey of understanding this requirement through a benchmarking exercise. 

Benchmarking produces a clear picture of what level of English language skills is actually needed in a particular job in different industries. 

For example, in the manufacturing and retail industry, an Executive Retail Branch Manager would need to use the language fluently and spontaneously on a wide variety of subjects. This job role would need to write (writing) to staff at all levels of the organisation using detailed text across a wide variety of subjects and accurately understand (reading) and interpret retail reports and matters involved procurement and distribution. They would also need to be able to understand (listening) extended conversations, and express themselves (speaking) in discussions or presentations on the trends in the retail market
Depicted above, is the role of an Executive Retail Branch Manager in the manufacturing and retail industry and the benchmark English language levels for the four English language skills: writing, reading, listening and speaking.

These skills have been mapped through the benchmarking exercise to the global standard for language use: the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)

The CEFR is the result of over 20 years of research. It is a global framework used to teach, assess and measure competency in the English language. 
The framework assesses language proficiency at six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. For example, a person who is rated as A1 would be able to carry out very basic conversations like greetings or asking and giving a name. In comparison, an individual with a level of C2 would be able to use the language proficiently even in complex situations.  

Commenting on the need for English language benchmarking, Keith Davies, Country Director British Council Sri Lanka said ‘“Benchmarking is essential for an organisation to establish its English language development needs. In order to provide appropriate English language courses for individuals and to allow for effective learning, their level of English must first be established. Benchmarking is an assessment that can pinpoint this need and allow the course designer to produce a course with more focus on some skills than others.”

Koshitha Peramunugamage Senior Manager – Human Resources Development - Singer (Sri Lanka) PLC said “The ability of your front line staff during a customer interaction has a bearing on the image of your company; this is especially true for the retail industry. In particular, with durables retailing, a significant effort needs to be made by retail staff to secure a sale. It is for these reasons that it is important that staff have the right language skills. As an international language, the development of English language skills is required for staff to be successful within their current role and to advance in their own personal career development. Benchmarking English language competencies against a global standard allow HR practitioners and companies to effectively identify, invest and measure the training and development process.”

English is known to be the most wide spread language used globally and has also been cited as the major language of international business, used by some 1.75 billion people worldwide. The apparel industry of Sri Lanka employs about 15% of the country›s workforce, accounting for about half of the country›s total exports, and Sri Lanka is among the top apparel-producing countries in the world relative to its population.

For more information on how benchmarking, assessment and English language development solutions can support your organisation or industry, contact the British Council on +94 (0) 114 521521 or visit www.britishcouncil.lk/exam/aptis

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. 

We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes.

 For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.lk
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