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Tennessee Adopts Seal of Biliteracy as State Industries Seek Bilingual Talent

New data show demand for bilingual workers in the state nearly tripling from 2010 to 2016.

NEW YORK, NY – Today, Tennessee’s Board of Education established a Seal of Biliteracy program to recognize high school graduates who have attained proficiency in at least one language in addition to English. As new research from New American Economy shows, and this program acknowledges, industries across Tennessee need diverse bilingual talent in order to grow and compete in the global economy.

By recognizing the value of speaking more than one language, the Seal of Biliteracy promotes language learning and delivers new economic opportunities to Tennessee’s doorstep. Tennessee joins 26 other states across the country that have adopted the provision.

“Tennessee joins good company—more than half of states now officially recognize the economic value of gaining proficiency in a foreign language,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “State Seals of Biliteracy create an incentive for even more students to acquire a skill Tennessee businesses increasingly need as they staff up, grow, and compete in the global economy.”

Tennessee business leaders commended the benefits of the initiative, which creates a tangible incentive for high school students to become proficient in a second language. Several studies show that learning a second language can enhance a student’s cognitive development, equip them with greater cultural understanding, and help them develop and prepare for an increasingly globalized job market.

The program’s announcement is supported by new NAE research 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 Tennessee’s workforce among both foreign-born and U.S.-born workers. This work follows other NAE research that has found the demand from employers in states like GeorgiaMassachusetts, and Colorado for candidates who speak more than one language has doubled over the last several years.

The brief, Demand for Bilingual Workers in Tennessee, finds:

  • Between 2010 and 2016, online job postings in Tennessee for bilingual workers nearly tripled, from 2,364 to 6,740 job postings. This marked a 185.1% increase in the number of online job postings for bilingual workers since 2010.
  • Postings for candidates who speak Spanish more than doubled between 2010 and 2016, increasing from 1,806 to 4,352 job postings, or by 141%.
  • Of the top 10 Tennessee employers for bilingual workers, five called for bilingual candidates in more than half of all of their online job postings, namely Crossmark, CSL Behring, H&R Block, Sephora, and CSL Plasma.
  • In 2016, the largest demand for bilingual applicants was found in the Insurance Carriers industry (575 postings) and the Depository Credit Intermediation industry (406 postings).
  • In the Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services industry and the Grocery and Related Product Merchant Wholesalers industry, nearly one in four online job postings called for bilingual applicants.

Read the full research brief 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…