There are around 2500 German companies in the UK, employing over 500,000 people, as well as many UK companies with links to Germany. How might they be able to help you promote German at your school, and how do you find companies in your area?
This document aims to help you do both….
How companies may be willing to help – and how not!
Companies will almost certainly not be willing or able to finance school activities. Recent economic realities, especially post-Brexit, have made this even harder. But what teachers mostly want, however, is help from companies to demonstrate in a direct way the importance of a knowledge of German in the workplace – why it’s good to learn German.
Bearing that in mind, companies may be willing, for instance, to:
- talk about how their company engages with Germany
- talk about how a knowledge of German is important for the company – this will almost always be in certain departments, or for specific employees in those departments
- talk about what sort of German skills are needed, and by whom – for instance, engineers, accountants or sales staff
- give a guided tour to a small number of pupils, with a particular emphasis on language skills.
- send a representative of the company to the school to talk about aspects of the areas above.
- provide printed or other material to show how German is used in the company.
In smaller companies, this often depends on the willingness and ability of one or more company employees to engage with schools in the local area.
A few, very large, companies such as Mini (near Oxford), or Airbus (Bristol), may offer organised tours, but these are usually geared towards the company’s products rather than to how language skills might be important. But you may be able to request that they include some information on the company’s links with Germany.
How to find companies in your area
The German-British Chamber of Commerce has a list of members searchable by name or location:
German Industry UK counts a number of multinational German companies among its members
Your local Chamber of Commerce may be able to help: contact them to request a list of German (or Germany-facing) companies in your area. Find your local chamber of commerce here:
The website of the British Chamber of Commerce in Germany also lists numerous UK-based companies with links to Germany. Click on the link below, then on ‘Filter by country’ and select ‘United Kingdom.’ https://bccg.de/en/member-directory/
Contact your Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and request a list of German (or Germany-facing) companies in your area. Find the LEP in your area here: https://www.lepnetwork.net/about-leps/the-36-leps/
If you live in Northern Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland may be able to inform you about German companies based in Northern Ireland: https://www.investni.com/about-us
If you live in Scotland, Scottish Development International may be able to inform you about German companies based in Scotland: https://www.sdi.co.uk/about-us/contact-us
If you live in Wales, Trade & Invest Wales may be able to inform you about German companies in Wales: https://tradeandinvest.wales/business-wales/why-wales/about-ti-wales
If you live in a City Region in England, contact the international team of your combined authority. The team will most likely have a list of German companies based in the Combined Authority area. You can find your combined authority here: https://www.local.gov.uk/topics/devolution/devolution-online-hub/devolution-explained/combined-authorities
Profiles such as this may show how learning German can help your career:
Don’t forget that there are many other reasons why German is a brilliant and useful language to learn – for musicians, historians, economists and many others! (See our “Why Learn German?” pages on the BGA website under Youthbridge)