It will work with universities and business schools to identify students with language skills who can help UK exporters with tasks including making new international business contacts, advising on cultural etiquette and developing international facing websites.
Independent research by Professor Foreman-Peck from Cardiff Business School estimates that as much as £48 billion in international sales is lost every year because of language and cultural ignorance.
The research also identifies that language and cultural barriers are more likely to affect medium-sized businesses.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The ‘Made in Britain’ brand opens doors to UK firms around the world but a lack of language and cultural skills slams them shut in their faces.
“Our medium-sized businesses have the potential to be economic powerhouses for the UK but their success is dependant on expanding beyond domestic markets.
“This important new initiative will help firms overcome the barriers that are a drag on growth and compete with the best the rest of the world has to offer.”
There are over 400,000 non-UK students studying in the UK of which around half are studying at postgraduate level, as well as British students with language skills either learned or from an ethnic background.
The top non-EU countries sending students to the UK are in high growth export markets – China, India, and Nigeria. While the most popular subjects for international students are business studies, engineering and technology.
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