What Welsh language skills are there in the workplace? Findings from Iaith ar Daith
Believe it or not, many staff have Welsh language skills in our workplaces. This was one of the main findings of our recent project on Welsh in the Workplace skills audits.
RHD Consultancy completed a project between December 2016 and March 217 assessing the language skills of staff in numerous workplaces across the public sector in Wales. Following the conducting of thorough skills assessments, the main purpose of the work was to present each workplace with a report on the language skills of its workforce across the 4 language skill categories of understanding, reading, writing and speaking.
From analysis of the data, here is a summary of the findings:
The majority of the workforce sampled had some Welsh language skills i.e. more staff assessments revealed language skills present that members of staff without any language skills in Welsh. Indeed, the majority of the workforce had some Welsh. This is interesting when the figures for the general population, measured in the Census, is lower.
The data showed that the majority were able to greet in a basic way in Welsh and that the majority of staff would be able to greet bilingually on the telephone, for example. This finding is very positive when considering the requirements of the new Welsh Language Standards wherein all staff in organisations in the public sector (and beyond) are required to greet in Welsh.
On the whole, the vast majority of the workforce was positive about the Welsh language and positive about the importance of providing services in Welsh to their customers.
In addition, many workers noted their interest in learning Welsh and developing their language skills for work purposes. Again, this finding is positive and demonstrates the potential for more Work Welsh Training programmes.
Interestingly, few had received training in Welsh in the workplace, and although they were interested in learning, few had firm plans to take the next step and start learning/ commence training.
The different language levels assessed can be seen in the chart, attached. Note the skills at Level 4 and 5 (advanced and higher) that were found. More were assessed at level (the highest) than any other level. Whilst positive, it must be acknowledged, that this is due to the sample. It is possible that the assessment exercise attracted workers with language skills and those wishing to improve their skills.
Based on the information collected, here is a summary of the recommendations to organisations:
- Complete a thorough language skills audit which includes all 4 language skills and is based on the national/ internationally recognised levels.
- Plan the language skills of your workforce just as you would plan any workforce strategies. Base your plans on solid data i.e. having completed a corporate skills audit, formulate a Language Training Strategy which will in turn, form the basis of your plan to provide language training for your staff.
- Building on the skills already in the workforce, arrange training and simple guidance for staff on greeting in Welsh on the telephone and at reception etc and encourage the whole workforce to use the Welsh skills they have already e.g. by launching an internal Use your Welsh campaign.
- Research the types of support that staff wish to have e.g. informal sessions, mentoring, text checking services, one to ones etc.
- Seek advice on the training options that are most appropriate for those members of staff with Welsh language skills already. Investing in individuals with advanced language skills and tailoring training for them, can be better value for money than only providing courses for pure learning.
This paper was presented in order to note the amount of Welsh language skills already available in workplaces and to emphasise the importance of identifying and investing in the skills already in the workforce i.e. to build upon the skills and good will already in place.
If you would like further information or a conversation about language training and language planning, you are more than welcome to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Methodology – The data was extracted from a sample of workplaces in the public sector across south Wales. It was a strategic sample and not a random one and therefore is not representative of the population. To respect the confidentiality of the project, the identity of the organisations are confidential and it is not possible to share data on these.