Denver, Colorado – This week, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law the bipartisan Senate Bill 123, co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Kevin Priola and Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, establishing a Seal of Biliteracy program to recognize high school graduates who have attained proficiency in at least one language in addition to English.
The Seal of Biliteracy has been hailed as an important initiative to promote foreign language learning and greater cultural understanding for students. The legislation was supported by a broad bipartisan coalition of elected officials, business organizations and advocates, including New American Economy (NAE) and the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education. Colorado joins 24 other states and Washington, DC, to adopt this initiative.
The Seal of Biliteracy program 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. Business leaders in the state expressed their support for the program during the legislative process because it will help Colorado students prepare to enter an increasingly globalized job market.
“With the Governor’s signature school districts in our state will now be able to publicly recognize and credential academic achievement in the study of foreign languages,” said Senator Kevin Priola. “Our quickly globalizing economy demands a workforce that is able to proficiently communicate with clients and customers in many languages. The seal of biliteracy will give companies looking to move to Colorado the confidence that Colorado has a workforce ready to meet their needs.”
The bill’s passage is supported by an 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.
- 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).
The legislation will take effect in time for the 2017-2018 school year. School district participation in the program is voluntary.
About New American Economy
New American Economy (NAE) brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. NAE members include mayors of more than 35 million people nationwide and business leaders of companies that generate more than $1.5 trillion and employ more than 4 million people across all sectors of the economy, from Agriculture to Aerospace, Hospitality to High Tech and Media to Manufacturing. Learn more at www.NewAmericanEconomy.org