New Jersey Governor Signs Seal of Biliteracy Bill, as Top Garden State Employers and Industry Seek Bilingual Talent


Sarah Doolin, New American Economy,

Trenton, NJ — This week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie approved a statewide Seal of Biliteracy, an award given by the school system to students who have attained a high level of proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation. The legislation passed earlier this month by the New Jersey Senate (37-0) and New Jersey Assembly (72-2) indicates that a topline goal of the new policy is to provide the state’s employers – who are increasingly seeking bilingual talent – with a method of identifying people with multiple language skills. New Jersey joins thirteen other states and the District of Columbia in awarding the Seal.

New American Economy (NAE) joined with other business and education groups across the state – including the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), New Jersey Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages/New Jersey Bilingual Educators (NJTESOL/NJBE), and Foreign Language Educators of New Jersey (FLENJ) – to advocate for the passage of New Jersey’s Seal of Biliteracy legislation.

The bill’s passage coincides with the release of a PNAE research brief, “Language Diversity and the Workforce: The Growing Need for Bilingual Workers in New Jersey’s Economy,” which shows growing demand for bilingual talent from some of the state’s biggest industries and employers. Analyzing online job posting data acquired by Burning Glass Technologies, the research illuminates the need to attract and promote language diversity in the Garden State’s workforce among both foreign-born and U.S.-born workers.

“At NJBIA, we take great pride in helping create a highly educated, highly skilled workforce for our employers and the state of New Jersey. We are committed to bridging the existing skills gap, strengthening New Jersey’s workforce pipeline and making sure students are ready for the world of work when the time comes,” said Michele Siekerka, President & CEO – New Jersey Business & Industry Association, and member of New American Economy.

“Not only will a State Seal of Biliteracy help encourage students and parents to take foreign language studies more seriously, but it could also help signal to employers that certain job applicants are able to effectively communicate with a wider variety of consumers.”

Language Diversity and the Workforce: The Growing Need for Bilingual Workers in New Jersey’s Economy finds:

New Jersey employers increasingly demand candidates who speak multiple languages.

  • Between 2010 and 2014, online job postings in New Jersey showed increased demand for proficiency in German (53.2%), Chinese (20.6%), Spanish (20.3%), and a slight increase for French (0.4%).
  • Between 2010 and 2014, there was a net increase of nearly 3,000 online job postings seeking candidates proficient in Spanish.

At several of the state’s top employers, at least 1 in 5 online job postings are for bilingual talent.

  • In 2014, jobs for bilingual workers represented at least 1 in 5 of the overall postings at the following companies: State Farm Insurance Companies (24.5%), Rent-A-Center (24.1%), H&R Block (22.3%), Bank of America (19.9%), and Crossmark, Inc. (21.5%).

In 2014, New Jersey’s biggest industries had thousands of online job postings for bilingual workers.

  • There were over 3,500 online job postings for bilingual workers across New Jersey’s top ten industries, which include Finance and Insurance (1,167), Health Care and Social Assistance (519), Retail Trade (372), and Educational Services (301).

Every day, Burning Glass collects data from almost 40,000 sources, mining and coding data from each posting. To obtain data on bilingual and foreign language requirements in New Jersey, NAE used key-word text searches (for example: “Bilingual,” and “Spanish”) to mine job postings by year, occupation (group), employer, and industry.

Read the full report here.

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…