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THE EF EPI-c

The EF English Proficiency Index for Companies (EF EPI-c) is an evaluation of global workforce English skills.

This is the second edition of the study, following an earlier report in 2012. It measures English proficiency levels in 22 industries and 32 countries, in companies with an annual turnover ranging from under $1 million to over $100 billion.

The report aims, first, to set national and international benchmarks for workforce English, against which individuals and companies can evaluate their communicative competitiveness; and second, to assess why companies in some countries and sectors perform better than others, and to highlight examples of best practice.

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WORKFORCE ENGLISH
PROFICIENCY BY COUNTRY

Northern Europe, parts of Central Europe and Argentina have high-proficiency workforces. Most of these are countries where English has traditionally been strong (Scandinavia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Argentina), but Poland presents an interesting case of a country that transitioned to high English proficiency more recently.

Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic and Uruguay have moderate proficiency. In Germany, English is taught to all students in schools, but most media is dubbed. Spain has promoted English language teaching in schools, but too recently to have affected most of the adult population. The Czech Republic, like Poland, has become more open, and English is now taught in schools.

Most emerging markets, plus France and Italy, have low-proficiency workforces. In lower proficiency countries, English is typically taught as, at best, a secondary academic subject in schools. The quality of teaching is often poor and reliant on outdated methods.

ENGLISH PROFICIENCY
BY COMPANY SIZE

Average English proficiency in companies of all sizes is low, but English proficiency within companies with revenue below $50m annually is markedly lower than for larger firms. This reflects the fact that improving English proficiency has been more of an immediate priority for larger companies, which are more likely to operate across borders and have greater resources for language training.

However, in a globalized economy, small companies are also increasingly finding that their best opportunities for expansion also lie internationally. Small companies really need to think globally from the outset, and insufficient English proficiency may be a key barrier to success. It will make it more difficult for them to act as suppliers for foreign multinationals entering their home market and also to penetrate export markets.

  • Workforce English
  • Executive
  • Manager
  • Staff

ENGLISH AT DIFFERENT
LEVELS OF SENIORITY

Having a good level of English proficiency throughout the organization, from more junior Staff to senior Executives, brings considerable benefits. In an increasingly globalized workforce, it encourages dissemination of information, knowledge-sharing, and fostering innovation and collaboration across the company at all levels.

However, in almost half of the countries tested, English proficiency among Executives was worse than among Managers and Staff. This is true of all the countries that rank as high-proficiency in English overall (except for Argentina), suggesting that companies in these countries need to focus particularly on improving the English skills of their Executives. In almost all countries, English proficiency was highest for Managers, compared with Executives and Staff.

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