Business executives and diplomats applauded Gov. Sony Perdue’s conversion during his recent trip to Europe to language training at the elementary school level. Upon his return to Georgia from visiting the United Kingdom and Germany, the governor reinstated $1.8 million in the state budget for funding language training at the kindergarten through six-grade level.

            “Mr. Perdue learned from his trip abroad that language is a core not a frill subject that can help make Georgia students become more competitive in local as well as international companies,” Patty Smitherman, state advisory director, Foreign Language Association of Georgia, told GlobalFax.

            “If we have two equal weighted candidates for a position and one of the candidates has bilingual skills that candidate will have a better chance of securing that position,” said John Flick, a spokesman for United Parcel Service Inc., which has operations in 200 countries and territories.

            Futren Corp., which develops and manages country clubs and business dining clubs, is always looking for employees with language capabilities, said Karen Yankee, the company’s director of human resources.

            “We have to train our kitchen and grounds workers on how to use equipment such as tractors and lawn mowers. If there is any misunderstanding about how to use the equipment, there can be serious injuries or accidents,” she said.

            “We brought in an outside consultant to train our managers on how to work with Hispanic employees. The managers learn workplace Spanish and the employees are trained in communicating in English.”

            The governor’s decision also received widespread support from Atlanta’s consular community. “Georgia is making great efforts to attract international companies and a well-trained labor force which communicates in English and other foreign languages is important to the business community and investors,” said Hans Joerg Brunner, Germany’s consul general in Atlanta.