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The Association of Translation Companies (ATC) and Aston Business School have appointed a research student to work on a unique project designed to influence the future prosperity of the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Multi-lingual Ankita Tibrewal will start a three-year PhD study in October, looking into language capability as a means of maintaining a competitive edge for UK SMEs in a challenging global environment.

The ATC, the language sector’s leading professional body, and Aston Business School have partnered to fund the project which will address the value of language skills in relation to the success of growing businesses.

Ankita, who is soon to complete an MSc in Investment Analysis at Aston Business School, plans to analyse how her concept of a “language multiplier” can be used to quantify the advantage of language capability in a business context.

Ankita, who is of Indian origin and speaks five languages, said she hopes the results of her study will help growing SMEs identify the point at which they need to invest in bringing multi-lingual skills into their organisation.

She said: “I am delighted to have been awarded this scholarship as the research proposal sounded so interesting. Despite numerous studies on how culture and language is critical in international business, little effort has been made to quantify the link between language skills and the benefits to growing companies.

“The outcome of my research will be to demonstrate if we can have a ‘language multiplier’ which has an impact on workplace performance.

ATC Chair Roy Allkin said: “We know language skills are a key factor in helping UK SMEs remain competitive within international markets. The Brexit result and no surety of single market access has made language capability even more critical for them.

“We hope this research project will develop a valid scale to help SMEs assess the language skills that are required against the willingness to implement them. We’re looking forward to seeing the outcome of Ankita’s project and the benefit it will bring to UK SMEs.”

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