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10 best (and worst) IT offshoring options for English proficiency

Stephanie Overby | May 14, 2013
There's some good news for CIOs who struggle with communication and language issues offshore -- and sometimes onshore as well. Global business English proficiency, on average, has increased during the past year, according to tests given to global employees in 78 countries.

Looking at the so-called "BRIC" nations, there was significant variation in results. India (6.32) was the best of the bunch, with a score close to the highest performers. Russia (3.95) and Brazil (3.27) fell in the beginners category significant variation among the BRIC nations. China (5.03) was just shy of the U.S. (5.23) in English skills (In the U.S., the majority of test takers were foreign-born engineers and scientists, according to Global English).

Latin American countries, which many CIOs are looking to for nearshore support, continued to report low BEI scores, with an average of 3.38. Mexico was rated 3.16. Chile has been in the bottom five of all countries for four consecutive years, while Honduras and Columbia have been in the bottom five for three of the past four years.

"Many of the companies located here have been trans-nationalizing within the region and are only now focusing on their global expansion or global presence," Kahl says. "There's a strong need but an equally strong commitment to developing the Business English skills of employees in this region."

In addition to analyzing test scores, GlobalEnglish also surveyed 24,000 global knowledge workers from more than 90 countries, and found that the average time saved as a result of improved English skills was two hours or more per week. That's a decent ROI, says Kahl, who estimated the each hour saved would net $750,000 per 1,000 employees to the bottom line.

CIOs aren't likely to need convincing in that department. But the service providers might. "We always recommend asking the provider if they've conducted a credible third party assessment of their employees' business English," says Kahl. Outsourcing customers should consider a vendor's commitment to English proficiency when making their selection and look to a provider's leadership for clues.

"With regards to motivation and encouragement, it's our experience that it often has to be made a strategic imperative; a directive from the top," Kahl says.

10 Best Countries for English Proficiency (Non-Native Speakers)
1. Philippines

2. South Africa

3. Norway

4. Netherlands

5. United Kingdom

6. Australia

7. Belgium

8. Finland

9. Sweden

10. India

10 Worst Countries for Business English Proficiency (Non-Native Speakers)
1. Honduras

2. Colombia

3. Mexico

4. Saudi Arabia

5. Chile

6. El Salvador

7. Brazil

8. Turkey

9. Venezuela

10. Yemen

Source: Global English Business English Index 2013


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