FCO facing 'shortfall' in diplomat language skills - MPs

Foreign Affairs Committee warns on impact of FCO staff cuts

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By Sam Faroqui

27 Feb 2015

Funding cuts at the Foreign Office have led to an "alarming shortfall" in diplomatic staff fluent in Arabic or Russian, MPs have warned.


The Foreign Affairs Committee found that "the most striking evidence of a shortfall in proficiency in foreign languages" relates to "regions where there is particular instability and where there is the greatest need for FCO expertise in order to inform policymaking".


Committee chair Richard Ottaway cautioned against imposing further spending cuts on the department, saying that "impairing the FCO's analytical capacity for the sake of a few million pounds could be disastrous and costly".


The FCO insisted there was a "renewed focus on languages as a diplomatic skill" in the department, in spite of recent efficiencies.


The department launched the UK’s first specialist Diplomatic Academy earlier this month in a bid to boost skills, with modules on offer including international policy, economics, languages and law. 


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