At the initiative of Minister Sven Gatz, who is competent for the promotion of multilingualism in the Brussels Capital Region, the Brussels Government and BECI launch 'Betalky.brussels 2022-2023'. This project call is addressed to companies, enterprises and independent professionals who actively promote multilingualism in the workplace. 200.000 euros have been set aside for the project. Organizations can submit applications up to 30.000 euros.
Implementation of policy document
This new project call results from Minister Gatz's 2019 policy note "Promotion of Multilingualism" which received broad support in the Brussels Parliament.
The impact of multilingualism on Brussels’ businesses can not be underestimated. Research shows that the combination of Dutch, French and English is frequently used in the Brussels business world. French and Dutch are the main languages. Moreover, the use of both languages is complementary, not mutually exclusive. Three quarters of the companies based in Brussels use at least both languages in their internal communication. Nine out of ten companies do so to communicate with the outside world. However, this does not mean that we should underestimate the importance of English as an international business language: more than 80% of companies use English for their external communication. As such, English plays a vital role in many Brussels-based companies, but only when combinated with French and Dutch.
Minister Sven Gatz: "With this project call we want to encourage the Brussels business community to invest in multilingualism. Language enables valuable connections and stimulates contact. Language knowledge enriches people and piques their interest. A multilingual company encourages greater cultural involvement and wider tolerance, also in the workplace. Let’s hope that we receive many creative project proposals."
It is an established fact that companies which do not employ enough multilingual staff tend to lose markets and are often economically less competitive. According to a study by the European Commission, 11% of 2000 companies declared that they had lost at least one contract in the past, because of a lack of language skills. Half of these companies declared that they would need to up their language skills in the coming years.
Bernard Clerfayt, Brussels Minister for Employment and Vocational Training: "Investing in the development of the skills of Brussels job seekers is a priority for the Government. Companies must pursue this mission so that workers can reinforce the skills they have acquired. Continuous training remains an insurance for keeping the people of Brussels in employment and guaranteeing the adequacy with the needs of companies. For employees of the administrations, I have just made Brulingua, the online language learning platform of Actiris, accessible to all employees."
A first project call in 2021 was addressed to Brussels-based organizations, who work at multilingualism and who were committed to education, culture, sport, youth and welfare. It met with great success. No fewer than 99 project proposals were submitted. Ten of which were supported by the Brussels Government.
This second call puts the focus on language management in enterprises. This covers all the actions and strategies a company can deploy to achieve a better language policy on the shop floor and in its relations with external partners and customers. Language management contributes to better mutual contacts.
The new call is launched by the Brussels employers' organization BECI (Brussels Enterprises Commerce & Industry) in cooperation with the Brussels Government. The independent, neutral and multilingual private sector organization represents some 35.000 companies, independent professionals, business leaders and liberal professions in Brussels.
Secretary General Jan De Brabanter (BECI): "For the diversity policy that BECI has been promoting for years, we like to use the slogan "Diversity means Performance". This applies equally to a multilingualism policy. And let's be ambitious: it doesn't stop with a sufficient knowledge of French and Dutch. Let the multiculturalism of Brussels be the lever for entrepreneurs and merchants to address the broadest possible public: in English, German or in any other language to welcome everyone, to serve everyone and to attract the talent we need to make Brussels even more attractive.”
More information about the project proposal and how to submit it, can be found at betalky.brussels and beci.be.