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Chinese checks in

Lovers of Mandarin and Urdu rejoice. There is no longer a requirement for schools to offer at least one EU language. Instead they are permitted to select a language based on their needs, a move that has been welcomed by the business community, who have long insisted that the old approach was not suitable for future high-flyers.

Research by the Hay Group shows that nearly half of UK business leaders plan to recruit Chinese graduates to meet demand for Asian languages, as their influence on global trade increases. Deborah Allday, the report's author, said: "We are about to face a war for talent, both in China and the domestic markets. This should encourage us to improve our workforce."

The move will also be applauded by Lord Dearing, whose report last year recommended expanding the languages available after figures revealed that less than half of pupils were taking a language GCSE.

A spokeswoman for Cilt, the national centre for languages, said: "It's good to see it's linked to the economy. But the key will be how it is put into practice, as different areas have different needs in terms of their economies and immigrant populations."

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