Samsung Electronics has decided to set conversation skills of foreign languages as a mandatory requirement for promotions to executive-level positions, a move aimed at enhancing global competence of the company.
Under the new measure, which will begin in 2027, only those who obtain the highest level in at least one examination of foreign languages English, Chinese, Japanese and German are qualified to get promotions to executives.
A Samsung Electronics official said the drastic measure will be also applied to the affiliates, Samsung Display and Samsung SDS.
"We have decided to strengthen conditions for promotions to executive-level positions, setting the top grade in speaking abilities among English, Chinese, Japanese and German as an essential requirement," the official said. "The measure will begin in departments of finance and personnel affairs in 2027."
Tests to be recognized for the promotions will include TOEIC Speaking and OPIc, or Oral Proficiency Interview by computer, which evaluates English-language proficiency.
Others include TSC (Test of Spoken Chinese) and SJPT (Spoken Japanese Proficiency Test). CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) will be used to recognize German-language proficiency.
The official said the new measure is aimed at filling the firm's executive positions with those who have an excellent command of foreign languages at a time when sales of the company have been mainly focused globally rather than domestically.
"The measure has been decided based on the view that without foreign language skills, it would be difficult to bring about good results as our businesses mostly take place globally," the official said.
The measure is creating tension among some Samsung officers who think it is already too late for them to begin foreign language studies, according to insiders.
Opinions among online commentators also differ regarding the measure with some saying that executives of Samsung Electronics, which is a global enterprise, would certainly speak fluent foreign languages. Others say strategy and tactics are a more important virtue than language skills.
Samsung Group has consistently stressed the importance of foreign language ability. It has recently asked executive-level officers of all the affiliates to submit certificates after taking OPIc by next month.
Samsung also asks those who apply for its open recruitment to submit their OPIc certificates.
Besides Samsung, over a thousand companies including Hanwha Group also consider OPIc results in their recruitment process as well as in the employees' performance assessment.
By Jun Ji-hye