Train conductors will no longer need lecturer-like Latvian language skills

On Tuesday, October 29, the government supported a reduction in the required state language proficiency level for passenger train conductors, as proposed by the Ministry of Transport.

The amendments have been developed at the initiative of the Ministry of Transport and Communications and national passenger rail company "Pasazieru Vilciens" in order to provide for persons with more modest Latvian language skills to work on the railways.

Currently, conductors on passenger trains have state language proficiency at 'C' level. 

"An evaluation of the duties of this position shows that fulfilling the conductor position does not require the state language to such a high standard, since the first level of C level includes managers of companies and departments, highly qualified specialists, university teachers and educators," said a statement from the cabinet.

Instead, conductors will need level 'B', which is deemed sufficient in other trades and professions related to the provision of services to the general public. It is hoped that the change will allow more people to apply to fill vacancies as train conductors.

Despite the changes, train conductors still need to be fairly accomplished linguists as, despite the fact that Latvian is the only official state language in Latvia, it is not uncommon for train conductors to be addressed in Russian by members of Latvia's large Russian-speaking minority and in English by tourists.

You can read more about the various levels of language proficiency at the website of the State Language Center.

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