Georgia Governor Signs Seal of Biliteracy Law, as Top Georgia Employers and Industry Seek Bilingual Talent



Sarah Roy, New American Economy,

Atlanta, GEORGIA – Gov. Nathan Deal last week signed into law H.B. 879, 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 Georgia Chamber of Commerce. Georgia joins 18 other states to adopt this initiative.

“Georgia is the nineteenth state in the country – and the fourth state this year – where state leaders have recognized the importance of bilingual proficiency as a tool necessary to compete effectively in the global economy,” said New American Economy Chairman John Feinblatt. “We appreciate the leadership of Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Speaker David Ralston on this important issue for Georgia.”

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 Georgia students prepare to enter an increasingly globalized job market.

“HB 879 is a strong statement by the Georgia legislature that shows the legislature’s understanding of the value of a linguistically diverse workforce,”said Denise Overfield, President of the Foreign Language Association of Georgia. “The Foreign Language Association of Georgia is proud to represent language professionals in a state that recognizes and promotes the value of language teaching and learning at all levels, and we thank our representatives for their thoughtful support of languages.”

The bill’s passage 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 Georgia’s workforce among both foreign-born and U.S.-born workers.

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

  • There is increasing demand from Georgia employers for candidates who speak world languages. Between 2010 and 2014, online job postings in Georgia for bilingual candidates nearly doubled, from 2,668 to 4,900 postings. Demand also increased for the following world languages: Spanish (88.2 percent increase), German (79.8 percent increase), French (68.9 percent increase), and Chinese (52.2 percent increase).
  • In 2014, jobs for bilingual workers represented a significant share of online job postings at some of Georgia’s top employers. In 2014, jobs for bilingual workers represented more than half of the online job postings at Carquest (68.6%) and Rooms To Go (54.7%), a third of postings at Bank of America (32.5%), and more than one in ten at T Mobile (13.4%), Rent-A-Center (10.5%), and Wells Fargo (10.4%).
  • Between 2010 and 2014 postings for bilingual candidates increased across Georgia industries, including: Automotive Parts, Accessories, and Tire Stores (increased by 362%); Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (increased by 96%); Business Support Systems (increased by 41%); General Medical and Surgical Hospitals (increased by 35%); and Insurance Carriers (increased by 26%).

The legislation will take effect in time for the 2017-2018 school year. School district participation in the program is voluntary.

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…