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Michigan Graduates First Class of Seal of Biliteracy Recipients as Top State Employers Seek Bilingual Talent

LANSING, MI – Today, New American Economy (NAE) joins Michigan business leaders and educators to congratulate the state’s first class of Seal of Biliteracy recipients. Created by the Department of Education last year, 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. Michigan is one of 32 states with a state Seal of Biliteracy program.

A new research brief by NAE shows that Michigan’s high school graduates are entering a workforce where demand for bilingual jobs has nearly tripled 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 Michigan workforce among both foreign-born and U.S.-born workers.

“We are excited to graduate the first class eligible for the State of Michigan Seal of Biliteracy,” said Karen Phillippi, Deputy Director of the Michigan Office for New Americans. “The NAE study demonstrates an increase in demand for bilingual workers in our state and those students who have earned the Biliteracy Seal will be able to take advantage of additional opportunities presented in the job market.”

“Michigan has taken another giant step forward in adopting a statewide Seal of Biliteracy to honor those high school graduates who have demonstrated a proficiency in another language, whether it be a native language spoken at home or a second language acquired via high school,” said Steve Tobocman, Executive Director of Global Detroit. “Today’s study demonstrates that bilingual high school graduates are critical to filling a growing sector of Michigan jobs that look for such skills. The value of biliteracy will only increase in the coming years as Michigan companies serve growing international markets and a more diverse population at home. In the end, a multilingual workforce in Michigan will give Michigan companies a competitive advantage, which will create more jobs and raise wages for all of us.”

“The demand for bilingual talent is only rising in Michigan, and that’s good news for every graduate with the new Seal of Biliteracy on their resume,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “The Seal not only prepares students to work in today’s global economy, but also helps Michigan companies quickly connect with more of the workers they need to compete and grow.”

The report, Demand for Bilingual Workers in Michigan, finds:

  • Between 2010 and 2016, online job postings in Michigan for bilingual workers nearly tripled, from 3,626 to 10,863 job postings. This marked a 199.6% increase in the number of online job postings for bilingual workers since 2010.
  • Seven of the top 10 Michigan employers for bilingual workers called for bilingual candidates in more than half of all of their online job postings, including H&R Block, MGM Resorts International, and Crossmark.
  • In 2016, postings for bilingual candidates made up a significant share of job postings in key Michigan industries. The largest demand for bilingual applicants was found in the Grocery industry (4.7%) and the Accounting industry (4.2%).

Read the full report here.

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…