PHOENIX, ARIZONA (May 24, 2016) – Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) has signed a law 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 the Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE), the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Arizona State Superintendent, and the Arizona Language Association. Arizona joins 19 other states to adopt this initiative.
“Arizona is the twentieth state in the country – and the fifth 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 Partnership for a New American Economy Chairman John Feinblatt. “We appreciate the leadership of Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona legislature on this important issue for Arizona.
The Seal of Biliteracy program creates a tangible incentive for high school students to become proficient in a second language. Numerous studies show how 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 Arizona students prepare to enter an increasingly globalized job market.
The bill’s passage coincides with the release of a Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE) research brief that illustrates 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 Arizona’s workforce among both foreign-born and U.S.-born workers.
- There is increasing demand from Arizona employers for candidates who speak world languages. Between 2010 and 2014, online job postings in Arizona for bilingual candidates increased by 60.3 percent, from 4,211 to 6,751 postings. Demand for Spanish-speaking workers more than doubled, from 5,873 to 11,990 postings.
- In 2014, jobs for bilingual workers represented a significant share of online job postings at some of Arizona’s top employers. In 2014, jobs for bilingual workers represented more than one in four job postings at Bank of America (32.32%) and Rent-A-Center (32.37%), and more than one in ten jobs at Maricopa Integrated Health (12.55%), Midfirst Bank (12.57%), and State Farm Insurance Companies (14.64%).
- Between 2010 and 2014 postings for bilingual candidates increased in many key industries, including: Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (485.2% increase); Business Support Services (209.7% increase); Consumer Goods Rental (198.8% increase); Elementary and Secondary Schools (115.5% increase); Insurance Carriers (111.2% increase); General Medical and Surgical Hospitals (75.9% increase); Individual and Family Services (58.9% increase); and Depository Credit Intermediation (30.4% increase).