As Colorado Considers “Seal of Biliteracy” Legislation, New Study Shows Increased Demand for Bilingual Employees in State Workforce

Denver, CO– As the Colorado legislature considers the bi-partisan Senate Bill 123, co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Kevin Priola and Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, on the creation of a state Seal of Biliteracy, New American Economy (NAE) released a study showing the growing demand for bilingual workers in the state. The Seal of Biliteracy has been hailed as an important initiative to recognize high school graduates who have attained proficiency in two or more world languages, and provide employers in their states a method of identifying job candidates with multiple language skills.

The Seal of Biliteracy creates a tangible incentive for high school students to become proficient in a second language. Numerous studies show learning a second language can enhance a student’s cognitive development, equip them with greater cultural understanding, and help them develop the skills necessary to become active global citizens. The legislation, passed in nineteen states so far, has been supported by a broad bipartisan coalition of elected officials, business organizations and advocates, including NAE . Business leaders in the state expressed their support for the program during the legislative process because it will help students in Colorado prepare to enter an increasingly globalized job market.

The bill’s consideration coincides with the release of a NAE research brief  that 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 Colorado’s workforce among both foreign-born and U.S.-born workers.

“The Seal of Biliteracy will be important tool for Colorado students to clearly distinguish themselves as bilingual to future employers and institutes of higher learning. We should always strive to find ways to recognize the accomplishments of our students while also doing everything we can to increase their ability to compete in the new economy. As the need for bilingual employees continues to skyrocket in Colorado and across the country, implementing the seal of biliteracy in Colorado will put our students a step ahead,” said Jeff Wasden, President, Colorado Business Roundtable.

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

  • Between 2010 and 2014, online job postings in Colorado for bilingual candidates nearly doubled, from 2,892 to 5,092 postings. Demand also increased for the following languages: Chinese (147.7 percent increase), Spanish (87.4 percent increase), and French (66.9 percent increase).
  • In 2014, jobs for bilingual workers represented half or more of online job postings at Bank Midwest (81 percent), Advance Auto Parts, Inc. (62.9 percent), and Carquest (49.7 percent); more than one in four of the postings at Greeley (27.3 percent) and Denver Health (25.2 percent); and more than one in ten at T Mobile (18.9 percent), U.S. Bancorp (16.9 percent), and Mental Health Center of Denver (16.4 percent).
  • Between 2010 and 2014, postings for bilingual candidates increased across Colorado Industries, including: General Medical and Surgical Hospitals (361.7 percent), Executive, Legislative, and Other General Government Support (240 percent), Elementary and Secondary Schools (193.2 percent), Outpatient Care Centers (102.6 percent), Depository Credit Intermediation (90.6 percent), Insurance Carriers (86 percent), Business Support Services (52.7 percent), and Traveler Accommodation (3.4 percent).

Read the full report here.


Sarah Doolin Roy,

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…