LITTLE ROCK, AR – Today, New American Economy (NAE) joins Arkansas business leaders and education advocates to support the creation of a state Seal of Biliteracy program as a resolution to establish the Seal is discussed at the Arkansas Department of Education’s State Board Meeting. A new report by NAE shows how a Seal of Biliteracy program would benefit the Arkansas workforce. The state’s high school graduates are already entering a labor market where demand for bilingual workers has nearly doubled since 2010. Analyzing online job posting data acquired by Burning Glass Technologies, the research illuminates the need to attract and promote language diversity in the Arkansas workforce among both foreign-born and U.S.-born workers.
The Seal of Biliteracy formally recognizes high school graduates who are proficient in more than one language and has been hailed as an important mechanism to promote foreign language learning and diversify the skillset of the local workforce in an increasingly global economy. If established, Arkansas would join 33 other states around the country with a state Seal of Biliteracy program.
“Retaining and attracting a skilled workforce in the Little Rock region is critical in today’s global marketplace,” said Jay Chesshir, President & CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. “The demand for bilingual speaking has grown tremendously in the region, and the Seal of Biliteracy will better prepare our students and future workforce that our employers are seeking.”
“Our Chamber has supported biliteracy recognition and awards for several years,” said Steve Clark, President & CEO of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. “We believe that by creating a Seal of Biliteracy, we signal to our workforce that being a global citizen with foreign language skills is integral to talent development and economic strength in our community.”
“The Arkansas Seal of Biliteracy sends a strong message to teachers and students that their efforts and achievements have great value that reach far beyond the classroom,” said Jennifer Kilmore, President of the Arkansas Foreign Language Teachers Association. “The steps they are taking to accomplish and achieve these goals not only serve the individual, but local communities, the state, and the country as these students apply these skills in their future endeavors.”
“This report highlights the increasingly crucial role bilingual workers play in our state economy and in the global competitiveness of our companies,” said Margot Lemaster, Executive Director of EngageNWA.
“More than half the states offer Seals of Biliteracy now, and the data makes a strong economic case for Arkansas to join the pack,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “America’s increasingly global economy needs more bilingual talent, and an Arkansas Seal of Biliteracy would prove a win-win for young job-seekers and employers across the state.”
The report, Demand for Bilingual Workers in Arkansas , finds:
- Between 2010 and 2016, online job postings in Arkansas for bilingual workers nearly doubled, from 1,468 to 2,914 job postings.This marked a 98.5% increase in the number of online job postings for bilingual workers since 2010.
- Seven of the top 10 Arkansas employers for bilingual workers called for bilingual candidates in more than a third of all of their online job postings, including H&R Block, Allstate, and U.S. Bancorp.
- In 2016, postings for bilingual candidates made up a significant share of job postings in key Arkansas industries. The largest demand for bilingual applicants was found in the Grocery industry (14.6%) and the Depository Credit Intermediation industry (6.3%).