Business Standard

India Inc seeks language specialists

Demand on rise as companies look to expand in Asian, European markets

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You don’t have an or any other professional degree from abroad and yet you fancy a job in an MNC? Well, if you have a flair for speaking and writing foreign languages, there is a number of interesting jobs with India Inc. Apart from the usual takers in the BPO/KPO industry, a number of telecom, e-commerce and even investment companies, besides foreign banks, are hiring language specialists aggressively.

Specialists in this context are essentially those with a degree or diploma in at least one language from a recognised institute. Even among them, there is a difference of levels when it comes to the language one specialises. For example, specialisation in Japanese with an advanced level of mastery fetches better pay. On an average, a language specialist with around three years of experience gets paid approximately Rs 7 lakh per annum. All of them have to go through a written and oral examination conducted to check proficiency of the candidate.

TeamLease Services notes the demand for these specialists has increased multifold. “Earlier, only software companies used to hire a few of them. Also, select entities used to recruit some translators,” recalls Madhubala Vaidyanathan, general manager (services) of the staffing solutions firm. “Now, a large number of industries in the areas of travel and tourism, shipping, hotels, foreign banks, investment companies, e-commerce firms and even education industry (tutors) are looking at hiring them.”

Head-hunters believe the trend is bound to grow, as most Indian companies are going into the non-English European and Asia markets. On an average, a large BPO will have a team of around 20 people as language specialists. “The numbers are doubling every year,” says Sunil Goel, director of GlobalHunt. “In specific languages such as Chinese, the pay can be two-and-a-half times more than the normal salary.”

The most popular languages, according to them, are French, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek and German. Mandarin, Japanese and Korea are also picking up pace as Indian companies increase trade with China, Japan and Korean and vice versa.

Information technology firms such as HCL, which have been traditional recruiters of these specialists, continue to be firm believers in them. “The rapid pace of globalisation has made organisations aware of the importance of global collaboration,” notes an spokesperson. “Language capabilities and multilingual language skills within the organisation have become prerequisites for success.”

He concurs English is still the chosen language of business, but adds it is “always preferable” to reach out to clients and target markets in their own language. “It also helps build closer connects within the business environment and understand better the cultural aspect and nuances of that country.”

The head-hunters also say there has been no slowdown in hiring in this segment. “It is all the more important to have specialists for market penetration in other countries,” notes Vaidyanathan. “It requires language specialists to have a local language web-page and to read and reply to queries by email or telephonically in the local language. They are not hired in bulk.”

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